Engine work done! Got the new plugs in, new wires (the old ones were looking pretty sad) and an oil/filter change. Swapped the new Poly-V-belt in. New engine air filter and new fuel filter. Everything is looking pretty good now.
Taking a little break before finishing the tranny work. We have the right pan gasket now, which will make the final work much easier!
Worst case is that the noise is still there. The plan is then to drive the car until the trans fails or at least shows some signs that something is not right (still baffles me that it was working so well...)
Probably a couple more hours to get the tranny finished and everything double checked. I left the pan off to make sure every last drop of whatever might feel like coming out has. Black fluid, gummed up filter, but no visible clutch material or other bits.
In January we'll tackle the front flex disc and final drive oil change, plus the rear brakes are looking like they're going to need attention soon. Getting this gal back into fighting shape is a bit of a task!
The car was a very good price with the lack of TLC reflected in the purchase price Doug paid, so he's not feeling too bad about siking some money into her. He had just lucked out getting out of a lease on a rotten Explorer and loves the 300E so far. Even if it needs a new tranny, his total investment is a fraction of the price of a new car.
I'll post the tranny results later...
1998 C230 "Black Betty"