On the first day of Autumn, on the 1st September 2010 I took delivery of the car after her ground-up restoration and respray back to the original dark blue (DB332) color! She is now a roller, back on the streets of Athens. I am very pleased with the result, the car is stunning and a head twister wherever I have driven her so far! 🙂
Nevertheless, rarely a deep surgery like the one she has undergone, after a complete strip-down, with hundreds of new parts fitted etc., goes without “a recovery period”. Hence, I do have taken care of few problems and need to look after on few more before the car is declared 100% ready. The overhauled old Behr air con lost part of its freon gas due to a linkage leak; after curing this problem, the following day the fan fuse was blown but now with the fuse contacts brushed clean seems to be operating nicely, pumping out efficient dosages of cool air in +32ºC hot Athens streets. The fuel tank was filled-up with 50 Liters of Shell V-Power after having it cleaned and had replaced the bottom tank filter plus the fuel level sending unit. A leak was noticed. Upon raising the car a fuel pump hose was replaced cum new clamp. The water temp gauge sending unit was detached from its mercury filled capillary tube during reassembly. No cure for that, the gifted machinists who could fix them back in the old days, all seem to have passed from this futile world. A new gage/sending unit assembly has been ordered and awaited from Niemoeller’s. Ditto for the hand brake tell-light micro switch, its head found broken, hence a new switch is now on order.
The biggest pain concerns the persistent vibration which was noticeable at speeds over 80 kph before the restoration; now appears albeit in a different resonance harmonic, but at speeds over 50 kph. Despite the fact that the propeller shaft was balanced and trued by a specialist, new universal joints fitted, Michael (my chief mechanic) was optimistic that these bad vibes would go away. Not so; a further investigation is required for its cause, or at worst a new prop shaft would need to be fitted. In addition, the auto gear box seems out of tune as gear changes have lost their smoothness, kicking in abruptly 😦
The car will be taken tomorrow to the electrician for some minor adjustments and interventions and right after that to the Auto-Stop/Connolly for finishing off the interior details. A list of interventions was made this afternoon with George Pitsikos and his assistant Thanassis. The biggest grief there involves the fascia wood varnishing. First the ash-tray was left behind and had to be redone separately, resulting in a darker shade from the rest of the woodwork. Next the end piece to the right had unacceptable bubbles and needs to be redone. Door weather seals need adjustments as well as the driver side door lock.
During the course of next week the new consignment of spare parts from Germany ought to arrive, allowing to add some finishing touches and raise even higher the level of perfection.
After Connolly’s the car would go back to Autohouse-Stuttgart for the vibration and auto trans cures, hoping that all issues will be resolved well before the Start of the 39th PHILPA International Classic Car Rally on the 22nd of September…
Another pestering issue concerns the car radio. The dilemma is: to get an original overhauled Becker Europa Stereo, pin stripe design cum iPod connector, or do the extravaganza and source a hard to find (and very expensive) now extinct Becker Mexico Retro Navi 7942 system? I lost out on one such offer on eBay few days ago, so will see what fate has in store for my Princess in the area of music and in cabin entertainment. I think I will opt for originality and buy the albeit low powered Europa as they were made especially for Mercedes-Benz…
Thursday 09/09/10 update
The car has finished the few intervening jobs at the electrician and then was left in the custody of Auto-Stop/Connolly for the detailing of the interior. First, Pavlos of Detail Clean Center did a thorough steam clean of the roof liner. A lot of accumulated dirt and dust came off the roof line pores fabric. Now the original creamy/white color has brightened and looks almost as if new. 🙂
Then Thanassis of Conniolly’s tended to many details as fitting the carpet over floor pieces front & rear, adjusting windows and doors so that they mate better with the new harder weather seals, applying silicone spray to all the rubber parts, fitting few missing seals and grommets (from the new parts bin which had arrived few days ago from Germany) and so on. To boot George Pistsikos had a black soft fabric cum liner garage cover made as a present for me! What a nice gesture 🙂
Having done the chores in the Gerakas area (will revert to the electrician to fit the new temperature gauge and the reconditioned Becker Europa radio, yes I have opted for the original radio set!), I drove the car bright and early (so as to beat the morning traffic) to Piraeus. There AUTOHAUS STUTTGART will tend to resolving the propeller shaft vibration problem. The issue with the gear box was quickly resolved by adjusting the rods which interlink with the throttle and govern the gear changes.
From the new parts bin, all the flexible brake hoses were changed, the silent blocks for the air filter and some clamps for the manifold shield. Also the auto trans cooling flexible hoses that run into the radiator where changed. Finally a new set of chromed twin tail pipes were fitted, adding to a nice finishing touch.
Coming to the propeller drive shaft problem, upon dismantling the shaft, the centering cross was found cracked and the adjacent rubber buffer too tired not to be replaced. Both these parts were ordered from Germany and are awaited early next week.
After fitting the new centering cross and flange parts on the prop shaft, the entire assembly will go back to the machinist for rebalancing. I can only hope that these interventions will bear fruit and the car will find her peaceful ride quality as a true Mercedes deserves.
Monday 20/09/10 update
By now most of the pending issues have been addressed! The main issue resolved concerns the prop shaft. Upon disassembly and re-balancing adjustments and more counter-weights were added. A test drive after re-assembly proved positive! The bad vibes are now a thing of the past… 🙂 At the same time all fluids were re-checked and topped-up. Mechanically the car was now ready.
Next stop was the electrician Panayiotis. The Becker Europa radio “mit iPod Kabel” had arrived few days earlier via UPS. The new water temperature gauge was fitted after having to remove the instrument cluster once again. The radio was fitted along with its separate stereo pre-amplifier unit; a convenient position was selected for attaching the iPod female mini-din connector on the side of the air con housing. The electric antenna was also connected…and Bingo! We now have stylish sounds in the cabin. Only the two new front door speakers were connected as the power output of the 60’s radio is not so high. The manual seeking mode of radio stations is sending me back to teen-age era memories; nevertheless, the frequency drifting is somewhat disturbing, while the only two pre-selector FM band buttons means that one only stores his very top stations! On the other hand the output and sound quality when connected to the iPod is very good indeed. I am also using the FlexTune holder accessory which not only boosts the audio signal but recharges the iPod via the cigarette lighter; to boot the flexible holder allows easy operation and visual of the screen. Is a great device which I have been using both in my GLK300 and my X-Trim 28 RIB boat. It is interesting to note that even with the iPod connected directly (i.e. without the TuneFlex), the audio signal is quite strong and the volume knob on the Europa need not be turned up more! Lots of power left for louder listening of my favorite playlists.
While at it, I decided to buy a new black case battery to go better with the mid sixties look of the engine bay. I also fitted a race car type master switch so that when the car rests in the garage, disconnecting the electrics will be easier or even in the event of a short circuit this precious classic will be better protected. The final touch was changing the headlight and auxiliary Hella spot light lamps with higher intensity “white light” emitting lamps. A small improvement gained for night driving.
Hence the car today was declared ready for the much anticipated “39th PHILPA Rally” commencing on Wednesday 22nd September. Just In Time indeed. More on that experience in a forthcoming post.
So at this point, a tedious and costly ground-up restoration to a “A3 condition” according to FIVA (Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens) classification, has been completed. I guess from this time onwards, the car will offer to me, family and friends many moments of pleasure and enjoyment. I will be also keen to be monitoring the “W111.023” market scene in months ahead, so as to reassure myself that from an investment point of view I am doing OK. Ciao for now and thanks to all interested readers of these posts 🙂