From the time the introductory post of the 300SE went live, many of you have been checking in over the course of the past 1-and-a-bit week (now close to 2 weeks) on progress of her restoration work. I will share the same here – guess there isn’t much to complain about (perhaps some to celebrate over?) as work has been moving along at a decent/ satisfactory pace!
We are now approaching the 1-month mark since I took ownership of this W126. To be honest, I initially expected this to be a relatively quick job – with minor rust/ welding, engine and undercarriage work to be completed. But the more components were removed, the more we discovered and the more we wanted to do for this old girl.
OCD-ness has almost taken over fully, with job upon job being dovetailed and stacked on top of each other. Do reach out if anyone of you manage to find a cure for this disease!
Let me explain;
Since our last update, the SE’s M103 engine had been extracted from her shell. Going by the sheer number of seals that had to be replaced + a leaky rear main seal, our partners at Tropical Success advised that it would be easier to work with the engine out.
Now this released the floodgate of old and worn components to be changed and jobs to be undertaken – engine dampers + rebuild, timing chain, oil pump chain & guide replacement + rebuild, water jacket replacement, exhaust manifold gasket, water jackets (to not bore you I shall stop here)
Well since the engine was out, why not sand blast and repaint all these metallic components? I must say, the ensuing result speaks for itself.
Remember what I described as rather minor rust repair work? This turned out to be (in my terms) rather major. What happened here could only be explained by a leak that started from clogged drain channels below the front windscreen, that overflowed from the LHS drain pipe near the car’s A-pillar onto the wheel arch and into the front passenger footwell.
Like limestone dripping from stalactites, how her floorboard got to this “crispy” state was not so much due to pooling rain water, but dampness that was not able to totally dry out in our humid weather.
And same goes for that small patch at the bottom of the rear windscreen, which I also noticed that it had been around since the time of publishing of that ST article we quoted in our last post. For these, both front and rear windscreens are waiting to be lifted before the grinding and welding work can commence.
As for that battery tray area… remember how our folks had to keep a spare bottle of “battery water”? More often that not, having to top up one’s battery water into a small hole would inadvertently result in some spillage of that corrosive liquid onto the battery tray. Guess it is not very reasonable to expect every owner to lift up a heavy battery to ensure the area is dry before closing up their bonnet.
Because of the extent of the rust, the W126’s dashboard had to be removed to further expose the condition of the sheet metal underneath it, just to be sure we weren’t missing out on any other areas. Now thankfully, for the front end, rust was only limited to the floorboard, battery tray and minor spots on the front wheel arch. Now since the dash was out…. why not replace the old air-conditioning system components? New temperature switches (we actually found that an AC switch belonging to a Toyota Dyna single cab pick up truck had been installed by a previous owner!), an evaporator and a cooling coil were swiftly ordered.
Goodness, the list sure doesn’t end!
Now, our undercarriage work will seem minor compared to the aforementioned. With our front brake assemblies out for replacement of those notorious 90’s Mercedes Benz ball joints and for easy access to those large caster bushings, a rebuild and refurbishment of the front brake callipers followed. Again, another surprise as I had not asked for these to be done for the car. What great service from the folks at Tropical!
And of course, being no stranger to Benz’s from the 90s, typical wear components of the cooling and fuel system are being replaced. After having been stranded with a broken fuel pipe and experiencing massive coolant loss due to a cracked radiator pipe with the previous W124, no chances will be taken with this old girl.
As we speak, the 300SE is waiting on a supposed windshield expert to aid Tropical Success in the removal of her front and rear windshields so that welding to her front, and that minor rust spot on the rear can take place safely. Fingers crossed that no mishaps occur!