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.

    Franz moving in

    December 18, 2006

    After all the painting was done, it was time to move in Franz to his new home.

    But first, some ramblings about how Franz was acquired..

    I bought Franz in october, 2001 as mentioned on the about-page and the poor automobile was left to rot in five years time before this project started. The single reason why it was left untouched so long was that the engine blew on my way home, that day I bought the car. Ain’t that luck! Out of two water temperature gauges (one of course the original, and the second one being mounted afterwards), to my surprise none was working. Of course I didn’t notice this before the head blew and I was left standing on a highway about 200 kilometers from home..

    About a year later I tore out the engine and had plans on rebuilding it, but that would have cost me a fortune and from what I’ve heard the original six-cylinder M180.947 gas engine was not very durable anyhow. So this opportunity to rent a few square meters of shop space comes across me.. About the same time I’m lurking on a few Mercedes Benz forums and picking something up; that a diesel engine can be run on vegetable oil. After a lot of reading I decide this is what I want to do, and so this project begins..

    Here’s Fat Franz in his new home.
    Franz in his new home
    Ain’t he sweet? The first picture of the star of this show!

    The hood was immediately removed (for obvious reasons) and came to a convenient rest on the rooftop. Finally I found a use for that old rack that came with the car, propably being as old as the car itself, judging from the looks of it.

    Also, Franz was heightened to new levels to allow inspection of the dark side of the story. Looked very nice, no major rust in sight except directly under left front door and a piece rusted out from the front part just behind the fender. Not a major problem, a couple of hours welding and it should look nice again.