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My First W116 - My 280SEL

Author Topic: My First W116 - My 280SEL  (Read 8517 times)

Beastie

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My First W116 - My 280SEL
« on: 29 July 2012, 07:44 PM »
Hi to everyone. I'm new here and so I thought I should introduce myself and more importantly my car. :) I've already had a good look around the forum and I've already gathered a lot of great information. Seems like a close knit community. 8)


So this was originally a NSW car, from York Motors. It wound up in a dealership in Canberra which is where I bought it. I saw it advertised on carsales and it looked like the one for me. I'd been looking at W116's pretty casually (but with desire) for quite a while. I'd even bought a scale model of one to see if it would fix my need. But it didn't.
 So I'd seen a lot of them, or at least a lot of ads for them, but I'd never seen the right one. I'd gone and looked at one that was for private sale locally - it was a 350SE - and I took it for a test drive but there was just a few too many things I didn't like about it. It was gold, which I liked, because it's very 70's, but it had very obviously been badly resprayed at some point. There was overspray all over the place. It also had a few mechanical issues. It was hard to start and the heater had been disconnected and cut off. It also had nearly 400,000 kilometers on the clock, and that seemed like a lot. But, it did give me an impression of the W116. It gave me an example. A benchmark. So I kept looking at ads, hoping to see one that felt right. I do tend to prefer the six cylinder models because in my view they're stronger and more authentically German, somehow, and I just like the way they sound and look, plus they're cheaper to register and run, which is a plus. With that said, I would have been perfectly happy with a nice V8 had it come along. A 6.9 would be a dream car of mine to own but... It's just not realistic for me at this point in my life. (I ain't got no money)













mmmmm, that's some nice s-class.

So yeah, it was in Canberra and I'm all the way down in Adelaide. It looked good from here tho. :P

I liked the semi-low kms @ 213,000. There seemed to be a premium on ones with less than 199,999 clicks. This one is just over that mythical, arbitrary threshold, into the two-hundred-thousands, far enough into them that there was no real premium on the price, and they weren't pitching it as a "low mileage example" but you and I both know that 213 thousand on a one-one-six is nothing. I feel like I got a low mileage example at a high mileage price.

Another thing that caught my eye in the original photos on carsales was the fact that it had no tow bar. It seems like a lot of these cars were used for towing back in the day. I can completely understand why but I was reluctant to take on a car that might have been used to tow a horse float or a caravan god knows how far, up god knows how many steep hills. So I had this vague sense that it had had a relatively easy life and shouldn't be too beat up.

It also looked really straight, from the photos at least. I could see there was a few dents and scratches but nothing major. Nothing structural. It didn't put me off too much and I figured it might even give me a way to get the price down a shade. The interior looked good too. The dash was cracked but other than that it was wearing its age and miles very nicely indeed. I also really liked the color combinations. Obviously color preference is a very personal thing and I don't want to say anything against any of the other colors, but I've always liked how these cars look when they're painted metallic brown or green. I like manganese brown and Milan brown, probably because of Ronin, and I've always liked silver green a lot too. I also really like the cloth seats. I like the look and feel of them and I like the colour of the interior of this car a whole lot. As a matter of fact, if I could go back in time and order a new W116 (and who hasn't fantasized about doing that?) I'd pretty much go for this exact specification, so I really feel like I've got the perfect car for me. :)






The photos really don't do it justice. The backseats look as though no one has ever sat in them, ever. There's a few small stains in the front and the carpets up front could do with a good steam clean but I'm waiting for summer to come round for that. Some of the interior trim is coming away and the previous owner's answer to that was to drive stainless steel phillips head screws into them.  ::) At least he put them neatly in the middle?

It has a really good service history. It has all the original books and they've all been stamped and more recently it has pages and pages of receipts from work done at a Mercedes-Benz specialist. It seems like the previous owner didn't spare a cent in taking care of it mechanically.

But so yeah, I ended up buying it without seeing it in the flesh. Or in the metal or whatever. Which was a pretty big risk. I have family in Canberra and they took a look at it for me and took it for a test drive and they couldn't see or hear anything obviously wrong with it. It's got electric windows and an electric sliding roof and tempomat - all of which were working. So I took a deep breath and called the dealer and started negotiating. I wouldn't normally divulge the nasty business of money but i figure we're all in the same enormous German boat here so why not share? they were asking $5000 but I offered $3000, take it or leave it. The dude basically laughed and hung up on me. Then he called back 15 minutes later. We made a deal at $3250. I feel like I got a good deal on it.

I had it shipped here on one of those land-ships. I believe they call them trucks. here it is the moment it arrived and I saw it for the first time:



I was mildly upset that it didn't get the primo spot on the bed of the truck but oh well. :P


Despite being a good one, it still has its problems. The rear suspension is going through hydraulic fluid at an alarming rate and when I turn on the heater, steam cascades up the inside of the windscreen. Also, right after I got it, it started making this awful sound. Just awful, like it was eating itself. It was horrendous, I assure you. It was this really high frequency impact sound, like something was hitting something at every single revolution. I called a mechanic, and over the phone without hearing the noise he suggested that it was the timing chain and tensioner, but my gut told me that's not what it was. Plus, I was of the view that that's a problem that plagues the V8's much more so than the six's. It turned out it was the engine fan striking the bottom of the cowling on the radiator. I took it to some other mechanic (Barrie Green, in Norwood, which isn't too far from where I live) and he had a good look at it. While he had it up on the rack I took a good look underneath and it's very clean and very straight. He said that fan banging problem can occur when the engine mounts are shot but he said mine "weren't too bad" and he wasn't keen to replace them so he just hacked a bit off of the ends of all the fan blades. Eh, whatever, it made the noise go away and was a cheap simple fix.

 The problem came back a week later though, with a vengeance, so yesterday I got underneath and I hacked a piece out of the bottom of the cowling with the Dremel. Again, not an ideal fix, and I don't like to use the term "hack" to describe work performed on my Mercedes-Benz but... it's better than having to remove the engine. And probably fractionally cheaper too, I'd guess. :P

There's also a weird groaning noise that comes from the front suspension whenever I go over a speed bump, no matter how slowly. Seems like it might be coming from the right side. Barrie greased around there and the problem went away but now it's coming back too. The car also seems to pull ever so slightly to the right sometimes so I'd reckon these problems are related.

I don't want to end on that down note... Usually after I've driven the car for a while and it has warmed up, it runs very smoothly and quietly and all those noises disappear. Last week I took it out on the open road to let it out a little and to play around with the cruise control. It's a wonderful car to drive. You can see my number plates in the photos, so... Let's say I stayed within the posted speed limits... yeah, definitely stayed within the posted limits.

So yeah, I've only owned it for a month or so, so this is only the beginning of my ownership, learning experience and financial ruin. I'm looking forward to it.

If you have a sense of Deja Vu when reading this, it's because I posted it already over in the wrong section. :-[
« Last Edit: 02 November 2012, 07:23 AM by Beastie »
1979 280SEL

"She's built like a steakhouse, but she handles like a bistro."

Beastie

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Re: My First W116 - My 280SEL
« Reply #1 on: 29 July 2012, 08:53 PM »
I'm glad to report that the problem of the fan hitting the fan housing is no longer a problem, at least until I fix it properly.

The rear suspension seems to be now well logged with hydraulic fluid and it's not leaking through it anywhere near as quick now, which is good. I figure the system must have been near empty when I first topped it up.

I've changed the oil and it's running a little smoother and cooler now. The old oil was very dark and sticky so I'm thinking I might change it again in a month or so, to see if I can pull out some more of the old stuff.

Finally, I flushed the cooling system over the weekend and replaced the green stuff with some of the eye-wateringly expensive blue stuff from Mercedes-Benz. It took me a long time but it was an easy job. I used a radiator flush treatment which did seem to remove some schmutz, and then I flushed the flush out with water. Then I used citric acid, like people here have said to do and like how it says to do it in the book. I was skeptical, figuring that modern off-the-shelf flush treatments would be superior but i was very wrong. I was very surprised by how much more murky muck came out. And it just just kept coming! It would be murky and it would smell really old and gross. Then, finally, after about 10 bloody flushes, the water coming out was clear so I added the blue stuff. There is absolutely no discernible difference from the drivers seat but I'm sure it was worth it to get all that crap out of the system and to put some good quality additive in there to stop corrosion. It's worth noting tho that even the Mercedes  dealership mechanic tried to talk me out of buying the blue stuff and he told me that Tectaloy coolant is good and he reckoned it would be fine, especially for the older cars. But I went ahead and bought the blue stuff anyway.
« Last Edit: 29 July 2012, 09:05 PM by Beastie »
1979 280SEL

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TJ 450

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Re: My First W116 - My 280SEL
« Reply #2 on: 29 July 2012, 11:11 PM »
Nice work, although I'm surprised to hear that the MB parts person told you Tectalloy was OK. Unless it has the MB standard listed, then it isn't OK, or at least not worth the gamble. Valvoline/Zerex is OK, as it carries the MB approval, and is cheaper and more readily available than MB blue. Still, you've made the right choice with MB coolant, you can't go wrong.

Deja Vu indeed, but I didn't recall seeing the Stobie poles before, haha. ;)

Tim
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1969 300SEL 6.3 1394
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Re: My First W116 - My 280SEL
« Reply #3 on: 30 July 2012, 12:11 AM »
What a beautiful car!!  I like the green....  I hope the steam on the windscreen had stopped because that could indicate a leaking heater core and quite a nasty job to fix.  If it's going through hydraulic fluid I'd be checking for leaks ASAP.

You did well flushing the cooling system and changing the coolant yourself!  The blue is quality stuff and thoroughly worth the extra $$.  What flush treatment did you use and where did you get the citric acid?

Replacing the engine mounts doesn't normally require removal of the engine and with some fresh ones it'll feel much smoother.
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Re: My First W116 - My 280SEL
« Reply #4 on: 30 July 2012, 03:31 PM »
.
« Last Edit: 22 January 2013, 02:05 PM by Major Tom 6.9 »

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Re: My First W116 - My 280SEL
« Reply #5 on: 30 July 2012, 03:35 PM »
.
« Last Edit: 22 January 2013, 02:05 PM by Major Tom 6.9 »

Beastie

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Re: My First W116 - My 280SEL
« Reply #6 on: 30 July 2012, 08:54 PM »
Nice work, although I'm surprised to hear that the MB parts person told you Tectalloy was OK. Unless it has the MB standard listed, then it isn't OK, or at least not worth the gamble. Valvoline/Zerex is OK, as it carries the MB approval, and is cheaper and more readily available than MB blue. Still, you've made the right choice with MB coolant, you can't go wrong.

Deja Vu indeed, but I didn't recall seeing the Stobie poles before, haha. ;)

Tim

Thanks. Yeah, I was a bit surprised by the mechanic too. I couldn't say for sure, but I think he was just of the mind that coolants are all basically the same and it doesn't matter all that much. I've encountered a lot of mechanics like that, when I say "oh, the book says to do it such and such a way" and the mechanic will just kind of scoff and tell me not to worry about it. Obviously their experience is telling them otherwise but I don't know how I feel, really. If doing it by the book is only a question of spending a little more time, or expending a little more effort, or spending a little a lot more money, I usually don't mind doing it by the book. Like you said, you can't go wrong. I mean, I'm enthusiastic about the car and I'm not solely interested in just maintaining the car on a basic level, just to get me from A to B. I'm in it for the fahrvergnügen.

What a beautiful car!!  I like the green....  I hope the steam on the windscreen had stopped because that could indicate a leaking heater core and quite a nasty job to fix.  If it's going through hydraulic fluid I'd be checking for leaks ASAP.

You did well flushing the cooling system and changing the coolant yourself!  The blue is quality stuff and thoroughly worth the extra $$.  What flush treatment did you use and where did you get the citric acid?

Replacing the engine mounts doesn't normally require removal of the engine and with some fresh ones it'll feel much smoother.

Thanks a lot, and I like the green too. It's one of my faves. :)  I'll take some better photos eventually, of the dents and of the engine bay and the under carriage and stuff. This week the W108 has been receiving all of the attention. :)

Thankfully the heater seems to have somehow magically fixed itself. When I had it going full blast during the radiator flushing, the gross old smell of wet staleness cleared up significantly and there was no steam and eventually it was just heat and no smell. I tried to keep an eye out for wetness in the carpets and other places and I couldn't see any/feel any. So that's good. Fingers crossed. I have a feeling I'll need to do the heater core eventually and I'd like to fix the cracked dash, so it's all part of a grand plan for a bit further down the road. I don't do a lot of the work myself. I don't really have the space, or the tools, and I'm still learning a lot. I was not aware that the engine mounts could be replaced quite so easily so I'll have to look into that more.

As for the flush treatment, I used Nulon brand flush & clean. I don't think I'd recommend it to be honest, at least without flushing it out well with citric acid afterwards. I didn't know where to get citric around here in any decent quantity, so I ended up buying a half dozen little containers from Foodland. It probably wasn't enough but it was all they had.




That is a crisp looking w116.

these w116's really are pieces of art and belong in a marble floored viewing gallery, silk roped off from public hands. How dare the truck driver let the w116 travel second class - although it was probably just in that arrangement because it was the first car to be dropped off  8)


;D Yeah, I figure it was just going to be dropped off before the other car, and I'm glad of that. It arrived in the morning but it still felt like a long wait. Still tho, it looks poky on that trailer. :P :)

I wouldn't normally divulge the nasty business of money but i figure we're all in the same enormous German boat here so why not share? they were asking $5000 but I offered $3000, take it or leave it. The dude basically laughed and hung up on me. Then he called back 15 minutes later. We made a deal at $3250. I feel like I got a good deal on it.

Classic sales tactic.

but it backfired on him as you didn't cave, he knew damn well w116 enthusiasts don't walk in the door everyday and that car could of sat on the lot for another 12 month costing money at that price.

well played.

Yup. Thanks. I don't have a lot of first hand experience dealing with car salesman but I know enough to get by. Most of the other cars on the lot seemed to be modern little economical cars and I knew his phone wasn't likely to be ringing off the hook for a 30 year old Mercedes. I figured they'd want rid of this thing to make space for two or three regular cars. I'd bet they still made money on it. I bet they took it in for about twenty-five hundred to seal the deal on the sale of a Nissan Pulsar or something. ::)
« Last Edit: 02 November 2012, 07:26 AM by Beastie »
1979 280SEL

"She's built like a steakhouse, but she handles like a bistro."

Mforcer

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Re: My First W116 - My 280SEL
« Reply #7 on: 30 July 2012, 10:36 PM »
That is indeed a very nice looking car and I am sure well worth the wait. Congratulations!
Michael
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Re: My First W116 - My 280SEL
« Reply #8 on: 08 August 2012, 08:49 PM »
Ah ha! I'm finally getting around to more thoroughly going through the old receipts that came with the car, and on one of the most recent ones it reads:

Remove radiator to inspect
Refit recored radiator and reassemble (that's a lot of re's)
Refill with coolant and pressure check
Replace wiper rubbers



I'm almost certain that it was during this work that the fan cowling was misaligned, causing the engine fan to strike it.

It's interesting (to me) to note that the wiper rubbers are OEM and that the guy must have charged him by the millimeter or something, because 1 rubber cost $22.47 and the other cost $21.80. Weird.

The whole job including labour came to to $851.60, which I'm glad wasn't my money. These cars seem like (and I use this term in the nicest way possible) money pits. I'm glad this one seems to be already half filled with someone else's money... Anyway, this is one of the more recent receipts, from May 2011. I've still got a big stack of them to go through dating back to... lets's see... 2003, wow. I should make a pot of coffee.
1979 280SEL

"She's built like a steakhouse, but she handles like a bistro."

TJ 450

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Re: My First W116 - My 280SEL
« Reply #9 on: 09 August 2012, 12:55 AM »
Yes... They certainly can be money pits, if you pay someone to do the work, even a 280.

For DIY'ers though, things aren't too bad at all in my opinion.

Tim
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1969 300SEL 6.3 1394
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Re: My First W116 - My 280SEL
« Reply #10 on: 09 August 2012, 01:24 AM »
That's about right for the wipers, the driver's side one is longer than the passenger's.
Don't fit after market wiper rubbers, they don't work as well.
Stick to the originals that have the 2 metal wires fitted to the rubbers.
I see you are in Adelaide, there is a new Merc club that caters for enthusiasts, you can contact me for details if you like.
PS: I live up the road at monarto South.
Russell Bond - (Adelaide, South Australia)
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Beastie

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Re: My First W116 - My 280SEL
« Reply #11 on: 09 August 2012, 01:47 AM »
Yes... They certainly can be money pits, if you pay someone to do the work, even a 280.

For DIY'ers though, things aren't too bad at all in my opinion.

Tim

Yup, I'm planning to do as much of the work as I can myself. I can take my time and do a really thorough/careful job and it doesn't cost me anything. It's going to be a pretty steep learning curve for me because even though I'm very into cars, I really don't have very much hands-on experience with working on them myself. Like for example, up until recently I thought that the fourth stage of a four stroke engine was a wizard casting a spell that makes the car go forward. But this site is an excellent source of information for DIY'ers and I've already learned a lot about these cars here. :)

I've finished looking through the old invoices and it seems as though the previous owner paid someone else to do pretty much everything. Even oil changes. That's nice if you can afford it, I've got absolutely nothing against that, but jeez... some of these bills... man, I would rather give it a go myself and keep my money for me. Plus, I think that doing your own work is very enjoyable and it helps you form a bond with the vehicle.

That's about right for the wipers, the driver's side one is longer than the passenger's.
Don't fit after market wiper rubbers, they don't work as well.
Stick to the originals that have the 2 metal wires fitted to the rubbers.
I see you are in Adelaide, there is a new Merc club that caters for enthusiasts, you can contact me for details if you like.
PS: I live up the road at monarto South.

I was planning on joining the Mercedes-Benz club of South Australia, now that I have my SA plates and rego papers. I don't know how much I'd get involved with club events but I would be interested in a club that caters towards W116 enthusiasts. If you'll PM me the details I'll definitely consider it. Thanks.
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"She's built like a steakhouse, but she handles like a bistro."

Beastie

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Re: My First W116 - My 280SEL
« Reply #12 on: 13 August 2012, 04:03 AM »
I'm currently in the process of refurbishing the alloy wheels so I thought I'd post a few before and after shots.

I'm still not used to how far back I have to step to get the whole car in frame! Felt like I was about 20 feet away and running out of garden to stand in. :D





Close-up of one of the wheels. I think it's a rear wheel?





I forgot to take a photo of it right before I painted it, but here's a shot of it before I even cleaned it. It looks pretty bad here.







I'll do something about the wheel nuts too while I'm at it.






I'm removing the wheels one at a time and cleaning them in my backyard. I'm lightly sanding them, cleaning them again, degreasing them, and then finally, cleaning them again. Then I dry them. I'm painting them using a faux-alloy spray paint designed to be used on wheels.



"Track Tested", whatever the bloody hell that means. ::)


I was surprised by how bright and light in colour these wheels are when they're totally clean! I was a little hesitant about painting them at first but so far they've all come up quite nicely and the color is a very good match. I'm aiming to make it look like they've not been painted at all and rather are just very very clean. I can't say I've done a perfect job with the rattle can so far but they look a lot better than they did before, that's for sure. They've gone from looking good from 20 feet away to looking good from 6 inches away.  :)

I was pleased to see the part numbers on the wheels and to see that these are forged, as opposed to the later cast ones. I have my original data card and there's no mention of alloy wheels in the listed options. So I dunno... maybe they were fitted by the dealer? Or perhaps the owner fitted them shortly after buying the car. Either way, I'm glad to have a nice matching set of original wheels.

I've got one more wheel to do tomorrow and then I'll take some after shots. I have a feeling that having the wheels looking near perfect is just going to emphasize the dents in the body panels, so I think some panel beating will be next on my list. :)
« Last Edit: 02 November 2012, 07:29 AM by Beastie »
1979 280SEL

"She's built like a steakhouse, but she handles like a bistro."

Type17

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Re: My First W116 - My 280SEL
« Reply #13 on: 13 August 2012, 05:49 AM »
...I have my original data card and there's no mention of alloy wheels in the listed options. So I dunno... maybe they were fitted by the dealer? Or perhaps the owner fitted them shortly after buying the car. Either way, I'm glad to have a nice matching set of original wheels…


If you check the data card under option 64, it will have a dash (-) if your car left the factory with steel wheels, and a single digit if it had some kind of alloys - the relevant page on this website (http://www.w116.org/library/codes5) should confirm the details. Of course, if the wheels on you car were fitted by the dealer, or a previous owner, the data card will be wrong.


More data card info: http://forum.w116.org/mechanicals/w116-datacard-and-body-plate-info/


Nice car (love the colour  ;) ), can’t wait to see the finished wheels.
« Last Edit: 13 August 2012, 05:54 AM by Type17 »

Beastie

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Re: My First W116 - My 280SEL
« Reply #14 on: 13 August 2012, 06:34 AM »
If you check the data card under option 64, it will have a dash (-) if your car left the factory with steel wheels, and a single digit if it had some kind of alloys - the relevant page on this website (http://www.w116.org/library/codes5) should confirm the details. Of course, if the wheels on you car were fitted by the dealer, or a previous owner, the data card will be wrong.


More data card info: http://forum.w116.org/mechanicals/w116-datacard-and-body-plate-info/
Ah, excellent info, thanks. ;D I decoded my data card a few weeks ago using your thread there in that link. :) But I only checked the meaning of the options with a number and I kind of glossed over the blank ones. I have the card here with me now and under number 64 there is indeed a dash. So my guess is the dealer must have fitted them. Man, I kinda wish I had the original hubcaps too. I wonder what ever became of them...


Nice car (love the colour  ;) ), can’t wait to see the finished wheels.
hahaha, thanks. ;D Yours looks absolutely amazing! It looks brand new. When I first saw it I could barley contain my furious seething jealously. ;) ;D Definitely one to hold onto and enjoy. :)
1979 280SEL

"She's built like a steakhouse, but she handles like a bistro."