I'm about to have some extra free time on my hands thanks my company's closure of the plant where I've been working
and am considering replacing the timing chain in my '87 560SEL. After several sessions of searching through the posts here as well as looking at the MB service CD, I have a general idea of the various aspects of the job but keep coming up with more questions, especially as I read the various suggestions and opinions on the board.
With that in mind, I'd like to appeal to the helpful side of Steve B., Gilly, and any other professional techs we are so fortunate to have amongst us for some thoughts and advice. The questions that keep coming up in my mind are (in no particular order):
1. How critical is chain replacement on these engines? Mine is not the original for the car and is probably at around 115K. I've run into several threads that treat replacement every 100K as gospel but a few others that indicate no problems well beyond that mileage, except for some engines with single row chains (all diesels??).
2. Some posts here seem to indicate that the more troublesome parts are actually the plastic chain guides rather than the chain itself. Is this really the case and, are the three top guides in the heads really the bigger problem or should the bottom ones be done as well? (The simple question is, can I use the feed-the-chain-in-from-the-top method or do really need to strip the front of the engine and pull the timing cover?)
3. Today I stumbled on a thread dealing with the merits of one piece endless chains vs those with master links. Is there a significant difference between these from QUALITY manufacturers? (Has anyone dealt with IWIS brand chains?)
4. On a related note, I will replace the valve stem seals at the same time. Do I need to buy/rent the MB valve spring compression tool to do this job or will a conventional tool work? (Any suggestions for conventional tool brands?)
Thanks for everyone's help in the past and in the future. This forum continues to be educational and entertaining. While I've done plenty of wrenching in the past - rebuilt a couple of Chrysler V-8s - this will be the first time for such major work on the car I use as a daily driver. More importantly, this will be the first time with a wife around who won't be very understanding if my attempt at saving money by DIY on a PM type project ends up costing a lot more by accident, especially given my unemployment.