Saturday, May 6, 2017

Back In The Saddle, part three

After a looooong hiatus, I'm back on the Mercedes project.

I see that the last post (from six years ago, meh!) was on pulling the tranny. Obviously more happened after that. I roped a fellow who lives nearby into bringing over his engine hoist, and we got the engine out and onto a stand, and then not long later, with the help of neighbor Frank, I got the front subframe detached. And then... nothing. Nothing for five years but dust. I had hit the point where it was time to start spending some serious funds, but worse for me, I had hit the point where I had to start making real decisions - what shops to use, what people to trust.

Fortunately, about a year and a half ago, I met a gal at a happy hour, who I kinda took up with for a good while, and along with meeting her that night, I met a friend of hers she'd came with, Paul, who has an auto repair/resto shop. Seems to know his stuff pretty well. That's Paul's trailer that the Mercedes is on - he took the time yesterday to roll over and get the body and various parts transported down to Golden (about a half hour or so south) to a paint stripping shop, the same one neighbor Frank used years ago on his Karmann Ghia project. Once everything's cleaned up, it'll all go over to Paul's shop where he's going to handle the body work - cutting out the rusted areas and patching, and pounding out some spots on three of the four fenders, then the paint.

Thanks to the recommendation of a former neighbor, I've got a fellow in mind for the engine rebuild. He quoted me $4k-$8k for that, gah! It'll depend on the severity of the project. I'm expecting more on the high end.

For the first time since late 2009, I can actually park my truck in my garage! Though I still have to deal with the front subframe and rear axle assembly, tearing those down and starting the cleanup and rebuild. Not sure if I'm going to have the square footage for both truck and those parts of the car, we'll see.

I'm going to try and start keeping this blog updated more regularly again, now that I've finally gotten off my ass and back on this project. I'm sure all two of you will be thrilled. :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Transmission/engine removal!

This post covers several weeks of real time, sadly.

First out is the transmission. A simple enough task - six bolts to come off, each of them coming loose pretty easily. The main concern was getting the transmission out and down without dropping it. As usual, I rope Frank into helping out. Between the two of us, one on each side, we pull the transmission back and then lower it to the floor. It's not terribly heavy, I've moved it around a couple of times since.

Fast forward several weeks, to yesterday. Ernie had said he'd come help out when it came time to get the engine out, as he has a hydraulic lift. After some delays, Ernie got in touch earlier in the week and we made plans for him to cruise by and chip in for a while.

While I shuffle various crap around to make room, Ernie attaches chains to the engine.

Ernie cranking on the lift to get the arm up to the starting spot.

Once the lift is in position, we drop the chains through and get them locked in, and lifting commences!

Not a lot of room to spare beneath my garage door.

Before putting the engine on the engine stand I snagged last year, Ernie suggests removing the clutch, which is quite filthy looking. This will be another rehab task over the winter. Ernie grabs a socket wrench and has the clutch off in short order.

Once the engine is secured to the stand, it's time to rotate the engine to get the remaining radiator fluid out. There's rather a lot in there! And klutzy me, at one point I spill most of it out of the pan onto the ground. Fortunately I have a full box of cat litter in my basement, a fair chunk of which gets used.

Now that the engine is out, and the rear axle has been removed, I'm very nearly ready to have the car body hauled to be stripped! Just a few minor tasks remain.

Rear axle removal

Now that the springs and shocks are out, the rear axle itself can be tackled.

Aside from the mount holding the rear axle itself, the last piece needing removal is the cross strut that connects on the passenger side.

It takes a bit of effort, but the bolts holding the strut on come out.

Baggie time!

Now the rear axle is held on solely by the mount that is attached inside the trunk compartment.

First task is to remove the two small screws holding this protective plate in place.

The nut itself has a locking plate that needs to be bent back down, to allow the nut to spin.

After a few whacks on a flathead screwdriver with a hammer, the locking plate is bent down sufficiently. At least, I think it is. Later on, helpful neighbor Ernie beats on this plate a bit more as we're working on the last bit.

Next up is to fashion a brace for the rear axle, to prevent it from moving around too much, or too far, in bad ways, which can damage the u-joint within. I opt for a simple solution - a 2x4 and zip ties!

I saw several small pieces off the extra portion of the 2x4 to build up the ends, so the brace will fit beneath the main body of the axle and the ends are high enough to support the axle arms.

While trying to strap the brace onto the axle, I find the small black zipties I'd purchased just weren't going to do the job, so another run to the store for some far beefier ties.

Three on each side seem to do the trick nicely.

At this point, I hit a stopping point, as I have trouble loosening the large nut within the trunk compartment. This is a two-man job, one to work on the nut and one to hold the axle steady, pushing or pulling on one end in the opposite direction.

Fortunately, my neighbor Ernie was able to help on this front - after beating on the locking plate a bit more (which I don't know if it helped or not), he went to town on the nut while I grabbed one end of the axle and pulled, and pow the nut finally released!

We had positioned a floor jack beneath the center of the axle body ahead of time to prevent the axle from dropping via gravity. After letting the jack down, it took a bit of wiggling to get the axle mount to drop out of the body, but in time, the axle was free and clear.

The axle will need some TLC - the differential is out of alignment, I know that for sure, and the whole assembly is just filthy nasty. Plus, the rubber boot on the passenger side gave way just after the car was brought out to Colorado, so I think I'll be taking the whole axle apart (or at least, most of it) and giving it a good rehab while the body is out getting its own attention.

Rear shocks/springs removal

Next up is getting the rear axle prepped for removal. First task on that front is getting the shocks and springs off, and the torsion arms detached.
The shocks are held on at the tops by a connector that is accessed in the corners of the trunk compartment...

...and at the bottom by four small bolts/nuts attaching the shock to the torsion arm.

The top nuts in the trunk detach easily enough, but the smaller nuts on the bottoms are more difficult, as it's tough to get a good look at them; it's more of a go-by-touch sort of job. Plus, some of these small bolts snap off.

Once everything is disconnected, the shocks drop through to the garage floor. As these are old shocks, they don't really compress and then rebound, but rather reduce the rate of compression/expansion of the springs. Meaning, the shock itself can just be compressed down and it'll stay in that position, making it possible to reduce the height enough that it can be angled out and removed. (Sadly, I did not discover this with the first shock, and spent some useless time jacking up the rear of the car an extra distance to make room. Grr.)

Once the shocks are out, it's time to disconnect the torsion arms, to allow for removal of the springs. First task is to put a floor jack up under the torsion arm, with a small block of wood as a buffer, to prevent anything bad happening should the spring, under compression, suddenly have that tension released.

 The torsion bars are held on at the front ends by castle nuts with cotter pins pushed through. I had wrestled the cotter pins out prior (which took a fair bit of time and effort, meh) so I was able to get right on the castle nuts. My handy breaker bar with the right socket made fairly quick work of these.

Once the castle nuts are off, it takes a few pops with a rubber mallet to properly loosen the cups on that end, and the torsion bar comes free. Then it's time to drop the floor jack, sloooowly, so the spring can decompress. As it turns out, there's not so much compression in there - it almost seems like the floor jack was unnecessary. But, better safe than sorry.

Now the springs and the top and bottom plates can be removed.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Speedometer cable removal

This is a job I could have accomplished a year ago, if I'd just gone looking.

Here we have the end of the speedometer cable, where it passes through the body support and connects into the side of the clutch housing. The blue tape wrapped around it here is obviously not factory spec. :/

After removing the small bolt holding the cable end on, the cable itself comes out with a fair bit of wriggling. It takes a while due to the slippery fluids present and the tape that slides up the cable itself while attempting to get a good grip.

Cable removed!

A closer shot of the taped-up end. I've no idea why this tape is present - once I clean things up and get that tape removed, I'll have a better idea. I'm guessing I'm going to need to replace this cable in the long run, though.

Clutch/brake pedals and pedal shaft removal

Next up is getting the clutch and brake pedals out. The pedals themselves are easy enough but there's the rest of the hardware in the engine compartment that is more involved.

First up is removing a pair of springs from beneath. First spring is attached to the clutch itself.

This spring comes off easily, just a firm grip on the main body and I'm able to push one end out.

The other spring is on the other side of the body support, attached to the clutch pedal.

This spring is a bear to remove - it takes clamping a vice grip on the forward end and pulling like mad to get it to budge.

Next up is getting the pedal plate/rods out. Simple enough process, remove the bolt, and get a flathead into the slot on the pedal to loosen the grip on the rod end. This is a two-man process, sadly - me on the engine side with the flathead, and ever-helpful Frank in the passenger side, giving the rod some twists and tugs to free it up.

Next up is removing the protective plates from the toeboard. I took a look at those small Phillips screws and thought "oh no, these are going to strip on me", but they each came out easy.

Protective plates, washers and rubber seals (what's left of them, at least). Into a baggie they go!

Now to start working on getting the pedals and pedal shaft out. First task is to detach the hardware on each end of the pedal shaft. Here's the end where the brake pedal is attached. These two bolts/nuts holding the pedal to the flange on the end come off fairly easily, along with the bolt holding the flange to the end of the pedal shaft.

The other side of the pedal shaft is another story. First up is getting the turnbuckle off the end of the clutch release fork. This takes a while as the rearward post (left side of photo) has to be unthreaded a fair ways to get it out of the recessed area of the release fork, and the nut on that end of the turnbuckle is on there but good.

But, after a few applications of penetrant and a fair number of applications of oomph, the nut releases its death grip, the post unthreads, and the turnbuckle comes free.

Once the cotter pin holding the other end of the pull rod is removed, the rod end comes off the lever on the end of the pedal shaft.

Next up is removing the swivel support plate. Two nuts on the clutch housing side of things come off without worry.

The circlip on the end of the pedal shaft, however, is a different story. Very annoying to get this clip off, considering the position I'm in beneath the car.

In the end, the clip itself snaps in two while trying to get it off, but that's fine with me as I intend to replace most of the small hardware in the end anyway. And now the swivel support is free, and gets bagged.

While I'm under here, I take a look at the bolts holding the transmission to the engine. Time to break out the big ratchet and a 17mm socket, and give each of these some oomph to loosen them up for the later task of getting the tranny out.

Next task is to get the two levers off the ends of the pedal shaft. On the clutch/tranny side, there's a small cap on the end - parts book PDF calls it a "needle cage". It takes a bit of wrangling but it comes off by hand.

And on the other side, the brake pedal connector flange needs to come off as well. This seems like another candidate for the two-man assualt - one with a flathead opening up that one gap, the other working on getting the piece off the shaft end. No good though. In the end, other ever-helpful neighbor Eddie suggests just repeatedly pulling one end of the shaft so that the lever/flange on the other end bumps into whatever piece is there - basically whacking the suckers off. And lo and behold, this was a good idea - each piece came off with minimal effort. Go figure.

At this point, the pedal shaft is devoid of any attachments. But, there's no room to get the shaft free of the body support that it passes through. What's the next item on the removal instructions from the service manual? "Remove the transmission." Harrumph. Pedal shaft, you win this round...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Driveshaft removal

Now for one of the more involved tasks I've yet to tackle - getting the driveshaft out. I am not looking forward to this. Yet another greasy mess!

Sadly, I get a bit impatient on this task and make a couple of dorky mistakes.

First up is detaching the rear end of the driveshaft.

The service manual job for driveshaft removal mentions "bending the locking plates", but I'm not seeing anything like that here. (I do find locking plates later on in the task.) I'm assuming that work was done on this end of the car in the past, and the locking plates never put back on or replaced. Regardless, these six bolts/nuts come loose with a bit of oomph, but not too much.

Sadly, during this process, I find that the car seems to have ended up in gear somehow. It certainly wasn't when it was last pushed into the garage in early 2010 - perhaps when removing the shift column, it was put into gear then. What this means is the driveshaft won't spin freely, and to get all these nuts free (and the nuts on the front end as well), I need to recruit a helpful soul nearby to wander over and depress the clutch pedal while I spin the driveshaft by hand.

One of the things the service manual stresses is making marks on some of these parts, to keep track of how they went together, for balancing purposes. Taking a lead from Thomas, a Swedish ponton owner who sent me links to a bunch of photos he took when removing his driveshaft, I hit the rear piece and the splined area it slides onto with some paint. Sadly, this paint doesn't last in the end, and I may have some balancing issues once the car is back together that need resolving. Mistake #1.

Next up is removing the bolts holding the front end of the driveshaft to the transmission. In this case, it's only three bolts, not six.

And then it's time to disconnect the center bearing bracket from the bottom side of the tunnel area. Three bolts hold this in place, with some protective plates in the mix.

Once the center bracket is loose, I take Thomas' advice and use a flathead screwdriver to spin that bracket around a bit inside the tunnel, which should make getting it out easier.

This is where I realize I've made Mistake #2 - as I had not yet removed the rear-most piece of the driveshaft off the spline. With the whole driveshaft loose, it's a more difficult job to wrestle this piece free from the end of the splined area, and to get it around the flange on the rear axle. But, that's a minor issue, and soon I'm working on getting the whole shaft assembly out. Service manual says to put the splined end into the lower left corner of the tunnel and pull it out that way. This is a bit of a task, wrestling the whole assembly into a position that puts the rear shaft at the proper angle so that it clears the rear axle enough that it can be slid out.

But then, trouble! The car is only so far off the ground on jackstands - and not far enough to allow the driveshaft to clear, without the rear end of the shaft touching the garage floor! Not to worry - the solution is simply to get the floor jack into position and jack the rear end up a few extra inches, and then reach under the rear end of the car (I'm not getting under there!) and pulling on the driveshaft until it comes out of the tunnel enough that the car can be lowered back onto the jackstands. Now I can roll back underneath and guide the driveshaft the rest of the way out.

And out it comes!

The center bearing bracket was rattling loose as I pulled the driveshaft out, and the rubber that fits around the main center bearing, within the bracket, looks pretty rough. Fortunately these rubber pieces are available from a number of sources and aren't terribly expensive. The bearing itself seems to spin alright, so I expect it'll be refurbishable.

Front end of driveshaft with centering flange.

Now to disconnect the front and rear driveshaft parts. This is where Mistake #3 occurs - I did not properly mark the position of the two pieces relative to each other before taking them apart! But I think I'll be ok on this front, due to the photo above of the whole shaft assembly - as there are small rectangular plates welded onto each shaft piece in various places. I assume these are for balancing, much like the small weights attached to wheel rims. I can use that photo, and the position of those small plates, to connect the two shaft pieces together again in the right way. Phew.

In this area, we have locking plates! There are three of them, one for each pair of bolts/nuts, and the ends of each plate are bent up to rest flush against a flat side of each nut. I have to take a small flathead screwdriver and tap it in sideways on each end of the plate with a hammer - once it's wedged in enough, I can shift 90 degrees and tap the ends of the plates down with the flathead from above the nuts, enough that the nuts can be removed.

Driveshaft pieces detached, with locking plates and nuts scattered. Everything goes into a baggie! The next task will be disassembling the universal joints and doing general cleanup. That can wait until the body is off for some TLC.