The other car

March 9, 2008

Some people expressed interest in my other car, a ’71 280S (W108) that has gotten a OM617 and five-speed manual transplanted into. Here’s a few relevant pictures, they are not of the best quality but it’s quite hard to take decent pictures down in the engine compartment.
I bought the car this way, and haven’t done the conversion myself.

First, a overview
W108 overview pic

Close-up of the engine, two pictures. This is a OM617.910 (“240D 3.0”, NA), that was installed in W115 75-76-models. It has a more rounded intake manifold, as seen, and the oil filter housing is located differently than later OM617’s. Note that original air filter housing has been used, and radiator/oil cooler are also original.
W108 front view
w108 engine side view

Passenger side engine mounting arm, this is probably the W115-arm that was included with the engine. The rubber piece is very similar to those in W123, maybe it’s from one.
w108 engine mounting passenger side

Drivers side, appears also be the arm from W115, and rubber from god knows where.
w108 engine mounting drivers side

Two interior shots, one of the shifter (from a W123?) and one of the gorilla knob.
w108 interior shifter
w108 gorilla knob

Some of the pictures hints quite a lot of rust. Yes there are rust on visible spots, but the whole underbody is very clean and newly welded where needed. Also the interior is horrible, it’s missing pieces and seats are torn, I’m going to get a whole interior from a spare parts car and swap that in, whenever time permits.

Silence of the valves

December 4, 2007

Long time no posting, here’s an update.

In late July I got Franz almost cleared by the Swedish vehicle inspection. Almost – meaning they DID object that it did run on diesel as opposed to gasoline, as stated in the title. But this bought me a month of legal driving (regulations says it’s legal to drive one month from a failed inspection) which I of course took advantage of, to the fullest extent. I did a trip to northern Sweden with two friends, all in all this took two weeks and we drove about 4000km (6400 miles).

4000km of test-driving of course provides some very valuable information about Franzes health.
I did learn the following

  • Front brake caliper stuck after about 200km. Manually hacked loose parts from the pads to clear the disc. Of course the caliper stuck again and again and again, and every time I took off the wheel, hacked away some more parts of the pads. This was seriously not fun and sunk my confidence in Franz.
  • Maximum speed is about 90km/h (56mph) and comfortable cruising is at about 70km/h. This is due to too high rear-end differential gearing. While not a problem for me, some other drivers, notably the five big rigs, a stretch of campers and mobile homes did object when they finally got to pass us after tailing for miles and miles on a curvy, single-lane road up north. At least judging from their quite sour faces.
  • Since it obviously is no rocket, it has quite modest fuel consumption. About 8L/100km (30mpg).
  • Worse is, that it seems Franz has a oil drinking habit, it consumes about 1L/1000km.
  • The cardan shaft vibrates a bit at speeds above 50km/h, but after 2000km you really get used to it.
  • Apart from these minor issues the trip went well. Sweden is a very beautiful country, the sun was shining most of the time and we played some serious rockn’n’roll with the Becker.

    Flakaberg hus
    Up north in Sweden

    How to perform brake caliper overhaul with almost no tools, no shop, no nothing. No there wasn’t even electricity at the location. Hand tools are manly.

    After we got home from the trip in late August, I haven’t done much more than fixing the stuck caliper. I was a bit discouraged by the fact that the engine drinks so much oil, that indicates for me it’s quite seriously worn inside and not very suitable for a vegetable oil conversion. But since all the hard work is done now, I am looking (although not that actively) for another engine to throw in. I have no real plan for Franz right now, but some things I’d like to do is (in order of importance)

  • Get him re-titles as a diesel car at the vehicle inspection
  • Take a compression test to determine how bad the engine is
  • Swap rear-axle from my donor 280SE
  • Do the vegetable oil-conversion
  • It’s december now and I have a quite busy schedule, so propably I’ll begin working on Franz sometime in january.

    Pictorial: broken door check

    July 15, 2007

    I don’t know if this is a common problem or not but I’d imagine so.

    After 40 years of slamming the door.. open, the door check gets its work-out and eventually stretches and doesn’t stop the door soon enough to prevent it from hitting the fender.
    Here’s what’s happening, door hits the fender at the circle and gets dented. Anyone can tell this is no good..
    Door check problem 1

    The proper way to solve this problem is of course to replace the door check. But you might have problems finding one or just plain want to fix it now. There’s a quick and dirty fix for this problem though and it’s to adjust the door check to stop the door sooner.

    Begin with disassembling the door interior. This is very easy.

  • Start with the lock knob, turn counterclockwise to unscrew it.
  • Lift off the interior panel mounted topmost, it comes straight off if you lift it upwards. It’s mounted with a few tabs and it’s easy to pull off.
  • Remove the plastic covers on the vent window knob and the window crank, and pry away the plastic cup behind the door release handle. This is easiest done with a very small screwdriver, be careful not to dent the plastic.
  • Underneath these you’ll find some screws, unscrew them and the knobs come off. While taking off the door release handle piece you have to pull the handle to get the piece off.
    Door check problem 2
  • Loosen the door handle, it’s fastened with two screws from underneath
  • Now you can take off the entire door panel, it’s mounted with tabs on both sides so work your way from top to bottom, take one side at a time.
  • You can now visually inspect the door check mounting. If yours is as bad as mine it will look something like this. The door check has widened the mounting hole from repeated violent openings and thus has slid quite a bit forward. Since the bolts facing forward still are trying to do their job, to keep the door check at proper place, the door check assembly got bent at the front end. Now, the easiest solution that comes up to mind is to bend it back to original shape, but please don’t attempt this. The door check is a single-piece aluminium casting and aluminium is not friendly for repeated bending, it will break if you try to bend it back to shape.
    Door check problem 3
  • Take off the door check piece by loosing the single nut and the two bolts. Don’t forget to pull the pin that attaches it to the A-pillar.
  • It’s time to modify the door check a bit now. Drilling small holes (4mm or something of that size), tap them for your favorite screw size and insert screws into the holes. Please see picture, it should be quite self-explaining. You can see the new screws installed and how they prevent the door check to go all the way and thus your door won’t open too wide now. If you’re unshure which length is appropriate for the screws you can begin with short ones and see if the door check works with them, if the problem still persist use longer screws.
    Door check problem 4
  • Voilá, problem solved. Install the door check, the door panel and the handles & knobs and you’re done. No more risk of denting your door!

    This entire procedure took me about 30 minutes to do. If you find this guide useful please drop a thumbs-up line or declare me a total idiot.

    Doing the purge..

    July 14, 2007

    Had trouble finding the recommended product, Liqui-Moly Diesel Purge, so I went with what’s available. A can of Wynn’s Diesel Clean-Up.
    Ran the can through the engine and got out some nasty stuff.. Yeow!

    Here’s what I bought..
    Wynn’s diesel clean-up

    After some idling and running ’round on that can here’s what came out of the fuel return. Plain nasty.
    Diesel purge result

    What the primary filter contained.. replaced both primary and secondary filter while I was at it..
    Primary fuel filter

    Will run some biocide through the engine too, some says the blackness is algae. You now, plants growing in my engine. Won’t allow that, now will we?

    Poster boy

    July 14, 2007

    What working on 40 year old drum brakes results in.
    Print out, frame in. Hang on wall.

    Brakes, oh brakes

    July 14, 2007

    Bled the brakes today, and while test-driving today the rear left drum began to grind..
    “Oh no” was my initial thought. I hate working on drums. Seriously, drum brakes are the second worst job after cleaning toilets at a rock’n’roll bar. Just plain sucks, but it had to be done.

    So the brake was stuck.. disassembled the entire thingamagoo and found out the cylinder had stuck wide open, resulting in shoes worn to the metal. Uh oh… Better have them replaced. Now I don’t know where I can find shoes for a 40 year old car, but will make some phone calls on monday.

    Here’s a few pics.
    First, a note to my self how things are fit together so I don’t get lost when assembling it again. Note the left shoe, completely worn down. No, not a single fraction of a millimeter left.
    Rear brakes

    Second, inside of the drum assembly after thorough cleaning. Got the cylinder unstuck by various creative uses of .. force. Lubed it up and seems to work like a charm now. Unfortunately the cylinder rubbers were quite disintegrated, propably a serious reason as to why the cylinder was so stuck.
    Rear brakes

    Now I just have to get two pairs of new shoes and Franz will be smiling again. Meanwhile I’m cleaning out all the brake parts, they are all re-usable except for the rubbers.

    Todays favourite tool: the sledge hammer.

    Driveshaft update

    July 14, 2007

    Got my driveshaft back from the shop that welded and balanced it together. Originally they promised to fix it in one week, but it took nearly four weeks. Needless to say I was quite pissed..
    Anyhow the shaft fits great, have test-driven Franz now and no strange noises anymore. Got up to 80km/h (50mph) today while testing and it handles beautifully! No rocket but who’da expect that anyways? If I’ve wanted that I could have done what I originally planned, to transplant in a smallblock chevy V8. Glad I didn’t do that..

    Interior work

    July 14, 2007

    Got myself a Becker Mexico from eBay. Of course it didn’t fit since the finnies had the earlier, smaller, non-cassette units originally, but I really wanted a cassette player in the unit since it’s so easy to add a line input to them. An hour or so grinding and filing on the dash, and see, it now fits perfectly! Looks much better than the previous setup (actually got some complaints about that butt-ugly radio). The hideous knob-panel is still there but it isn’t really that noticeable where it sits, mounted so low.
    If you’re curious as to what all those extra gizmos are, they are (from left)

  • Windshield washer actuator (original foot pump had decayed to dust)
  • Pre-glow knob, pull and it glows! (automatic glowing is sooo cheap!)
  • Knob for fan mounted at rear window, to cool back seat passengers
  • Lamp for that fan.. very exciting
  • Engine vacuum shut-off valve
  • Yes I will remake that panel some other day in matching style to the rest of the interior but that’ll do for now.
    Interior shot 2

    Barely visible in the photo is the new carpets which I got for some $20. They are by no means a perfect fit but they’re blue, they were cheap and they really freshened up the interior quite a bit.

    Premiere trip

    June 7, 2007

    So Franz finally got some fresh air and sun.
    Last thursday the time had come to test drive Franz a bit to see how things are working out.
    Below is the video of Franzes first run, ever!

    Immediately noticed that loud clicking sound coming from underneath (that’s why I look so worried), I checked it out on friday and it turned to be a loose bolt on the cardan shaft mounting at the flex plate. That’s wrenched tight now and everything seems to be running fine.

    Test drove once more again and Franz merrily speeds up to 50km/h and the tranny is shifting smooth as silk (went up to third). Maybe that quick and dirty vacuum job really does work?? 🙂 Didn’t want to run faster due to limited space at the site, the cardan shaft is still only temporarily welded together and the brakes definitively needs some working.

    Also noticed a small dripping oil leak from a line going to the oil pressure gauge, think I fixed it now.

    Current status is that Franz is once again standing on four steel legs, took the cardan shaft off to get it to a professional machine shop for welding and balancing. Been doing some interior work now. Hooked up a radio (although no speakers yet), lubricated all the wires from dash to the heater (levers hardly moved before) and began polishing up the chromework. Some fun-to-do smaller jobs, I really need them now as relaxation from the pulling engines / wrenching cardans-type of jobs.

    Here’s a picture of the interior, if you’ve ever been in a fintail you’ll notice this is not particulary different. Not a show car but nothing is cracked or broken, could be polished a bit to a nice shine. New carpets and more, could make a difference!
    Interior shot

    Seeing the light

    May 20, 2007

    It suddenly feels I’m getting somewhere with this car.
    Hood cleaned and mounted. Got a nice Automatic-badge from the previously mentioned W108 parts car that found itself at home at the front. The other badge is for the Swedish temperance movement of motorists (Motorförarnas helnykterhetsförbund). No I don’t support them 😀 but the badge is cool. He who has most badges in front of the car when the car dies, wins!


    Video of engine running.
    First trial starts were made last tuesday, but due to weak batteries and air in the fuel system it didn’t start up despite 20 minutes of cranking. Wednesday it was time for a new try, this time after airing the system and getting in the Chevy van as starting aid. Runs beautifully! Starts up nicely with about 25 seconds of glowing and 3-4 seconds of cranking.