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Old 01-13-2004, 05:27 PM
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Old Lyme, Connecticut
Posts: 3,596
Good Luck or Bad? Depends on Perspective

Just thought I would share this with you guys, and it eventually gets to the topic of an experience with my Diesel. I was in NH Friday and Saturday last week attending a kick off meeting for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics competition, and a reception for adult team members at Dean Kamen's home outside Manchester.

FIRST is a non-profit organization founded by Dean Kamen and some buddies/cohorts to try to get kids in highschool more interested in becoming engineers and scientists by introducing them to adults in the profession and having them work together on a project. In this case they make up a game to be played with robots that are designed and built in 6 weeks or so by teams across the country (about 1,000 active team) and some from outside the US, according to rules and using a box of parts that are released at this kick-off meeting. I have been doing this with my kids off and on for the last 6 years, depending on whether or not they (my kids) were interested.

I had my 5*F below zero starting challenge on Saturday morning, which turned out to be no big deal. The car was a little stiff and made a few chassis noises over bumps that were new, but like I posted elsewhere, this car (1998 E300D TurboDiesel) has a starting sequence much like turning the lights on. After the glow plug light quenches, I give it another few seconds, then twist the key and let go. The engine does a quantuum state change from resting to running, with no time in between.

In the mid afternoon we departed and I was driving West or South, hard to tell, on I-290 entering the area of Worcester, Massachusetts. As I crested a hill and headed down a long slope and under some high overpasses, approaching exit 18 at around 2:15 or 2:30, I heard a POP!, only very loud, like someone shot a rifle in the back seat just behind my head. The next thing I notice is, after a fraction of a second delay, there is suddenly a lot of wind noise.

I was in the left lane, driving at 70 mph to 75 mph in congested but moving traffic, passing a tractor trailor. I immediately checked to make sure there was no problem with the control of the car, then checked the windows. No open windows. So I opened the interior cover for the glass sunroof and, lo and behold, my sunroof was shattered and had a 10 inch or more diameter hole in it. My passenger asked if I wanted to stop and my response was "why? It is 10*F and getting colder outside and now I want to make sure we get home without freezing. I have nothing in the car to repair this with, so we are going home!" We called the State Police and reported the event and kept going.

Well, nature called and we stopped at Burger King on I-395 just before leaving Massachusetts. When I got a chance to inspect the damage, it was clear a rock or piece of concrete had hit about 2" in from the right and front side edges, near the front passenger side corner. Apparently the glass bowed inward from the impact, possibly cracking or beginning to crack, and then, on the rebound it shot the center section out and "ventilated" the interior of the car. There is a series of gouges from the larger pieces that apparently broke up and bounced back onto the trunk. No apparent dents, just gouges into the paint. By the way, no glass made it into the passenger compartment.

We got home at dusk and I put a tarp over the front half of the car's roof. Don't have a garage anymore, so now I wait for the inusrance agency to send an adjuster out. I told them I was brinign it to the dealership as I want the headliner removed to have the glass taken out of the mechanism and the drains. I also want the mechanism inspected. I am still waiting for the "insurance adjuster" to come and "adjust" my damages.

Anyway, the bad luck is that it happened at all and the good luck is it hit the roof panel. Had it hit the windshield at 75 mph I think it would have come through and likely killed my passenger, a retired NRC engineer who is a really class guy. He started this FIRST stuff 6 years ago too, but his youngest son graduated that year with my daughter, and he still does it.

Well, I say I was lucky. May cost me $500 in deductible costs, but it was definitely better than it could have been. Jim
1986 Euro 190E 2.3-16 (291,000 miles),
1998 E300D TurboDiesel, 231,000 miles -purchased with 45,000,
1988 300E 5-speed 252,000 miles,
1983 240D 4-speed, purchased w/136,000, now with 222,000 miles.
2009 ML320CDI Bluetec, 89,000 miles

1971 220D (250,000 miles plus, sold to father-in-law),
1975 240D (245,000 miles - died of body rot),
1991 350SD (176,560 miles, weakest Benz I have owned),
1999 C230 Sport (45,400 miles),
1982 240D (321,000 miles, put to sleep)
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Old 01-13-2004, 06:16 PM
Old Deis
Posts: n/a
Jim. I have worked insurance claims for years and you are right. Any object of the mass you are describing will do incredible damages to the occupants of the car when it strikes a windshield.
Brings back some chilling memories of old long forgotten claims.
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Old 01-13-2004, 06:48 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 18,355
People die here in Colorado on a semi-regular basis from rocks falling off the mtn's and going thru the windshield or roof. At your speed, a tenth of a second sooner and your passenger would have passed over the great divide.

"Rock of Ages Cleft for me" or in this case, NOT.
1977 300d 70k--sold 08
1985 300TD 185k+
1984 307d 126k--sold 8/03
1985 409d 65k--sold 06
1984 300SD 315k--daughter's car
1979 300SD 122k--sold 2/11
1999 Fuso FG Expedition Camper
1993 GMC Sierra 6.5 TD 4x4
1982 Bluebird Wanderlodge CAT 3208--Sold 2/13
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Old 01-13-2004, 06:50 PM
bjcsc's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 672
These incidents of people throwing things at cars from overpasses are getting out of control and too high in number. The various responsible LEO's need to catch some of these people and punish them severely. They could have killed you, and they have killed others. You were very lucky.
1982 Mercedes-Benz 300CD
1982 Mercedes-Benz 240D - stick
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Old 01-13-2004, 06:53 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Evansville, Indiana
Posts: 8,150

I'm glad it hit the top of the car, although MB windshields are pretty tough. My sister caught a car part (whatever it was) on the windshield a couple years ago when she drove Mom's TE down to Tennessee to visit my brother -- someone rear-ended a pickup going the other way in the lane beside her. Scared the crap outa her, and busted the windshield. Looked from the scratches like a bumper or something -- whatever it was, it fell back into the mess of the accident and she didn't bother to get involved (out of state car, different out of state lisence, etc). I would have just to get the damned thing covered on someone else's insurance instead of out of my pocket, but nothing I could do after the fact.

Broke both panes (inner and outer), but didn't penetrate at all. Sis though she'd ben hit in the side -- I suspect she jerked the wheel! Could have been so much worse that a buste windshield!

1972 220D ?? miles
1988 300E 200,012
1987 300D Turbo killed 9/25/07, 275,000 miles
1985 Volvo 740 GLE Turobodiesel 218,000
1972 280 SE 4.5 165, 000 - It runs!
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Old 01-14-2004, 12:55 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: New England
Posts: 214
I was driving the family somewhere in our old Country Squire wagon on a summer Sunday when a tree branch fell, pierced the windshied in front of my wife, punctured the dash, went through the radio speaker, then retracted. It was so fast that none of us actually saw it happen, I only know it was a branch because I saw it bouncing to the side of road in my rear view mirror. It was so loud, and the hole round, that I initially thought we were being shot at. Happenned so fast that the branch hit the windshield without hitting the radio antenna, and recoiled before hitting the A pillar. If it had fallen 10 seconds later it would have killed the motorcyclist behind us.

85 300SD, 300K+, anthracite gray
97 S320, 205K black
02 E320 4matic Wagon, 160K green
88 Dodge W100, 160K, 4wd beast
00 C230 Kompressor, 200K silver
83 300SD white, 350K+
84 300SD silver, 275K+
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Old 01-14-2004, 01:14 PM
84300DT's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Mass.
Posts: 2,218
jim, wow thank goodness no one was hurt!! your guardian angel was at work !
1984 300D Turbo - 231k....totalled 11/30/07 RIP
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Old 01-14-2004, 01:30 PM
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Old Lyme, Connecticut
Posts: 3,596
Life is full of little timing critical events. Some come out good and others can be disasters. I am certainly grateful that this event was injury free to my passenger and to me.

I just had a visit from the insurance adjuster, and they intend to put a used piece of glass back in the spot. A little cheesy if you ask me, but if it is indistinguishable from a new one, I guess I don't care.

Well, I hope this is the end of my streak of dealings with insurance company adjusters. Jim
1986 Euro 190E 2.3-16 (291,000 miles),
1998 E300D TurboDiesel, 231,000 miles -purchased with 45,000,
1988 300E 5-speed 252,000 miles,
1983 240D 4-speed, purchased w/136,000, now with 222,000 miles.
2009 ML320CDI Bluetec, 89,000 miles

1971 220D (250,000 miles plus, sold to father-in-law),
1975 240D (245,000 miles - died of body rot),
1991 350SD (176,560 miles, weakest Benz I have owned),
1999 C230 Sport (45,400 miles),
1982 240D (321,000 miles, put to sleep)
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Old 01-14-2004, 03:10 PM
cscmc1's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Central IL
Posts: 2,782
Jim -- glad you're OK! We lost a close family friend a few years ago to some jackass tossing bricks from an overpass down south. The impact instantly killed the passenger (wife) and hospitalized the driver (husband) for quite some time. How the people on the overpass can live with themselves is beyond me.

Again, I'm glad you and your passenger are safe. As frustrating as it is, cars can always be fixed!

1992 300D 2.5T
1980 Euro 300D (sadly, sold)
1998 Jetta TDI, 132K "Rudy"
1974 Triumph TR6
1999 Saab 9-5 wagon (wife's)
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Old 01-14-2004, 05:03 PM
wolf_walker's Avatar
Zen And The Art Of Diesel
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Oklahoma City
Posts: 2,046
Things like that make you really think sometimes. Least they do with me. Sure glad nobody was hurt.

For the record, I'd be P.O'd if they wanted to use used parts.
Insurance companys are not real high on my list.

Glad all is well though..
One more Radar Lover gone...
1982 VW Caddy diesel 402K 1.9L AAZ
1994 E320 175K
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Old 01-14-2004, 06:57 PM
Wes Bender's Avatar
Retired User
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Alpine, AZ / Green Valley, AZ
Posts: 733
Hi Jim -

Glad no one was hurt.

On December 24th, driving through New Mexico enroute to our Alpine cabin, the same exact thing happened on our Toyota Tacoma. A pickup going the opposite direction on a two lane road flipped up a couple stones. One hit the windshield without damaging it. The other, about a half inch in diameter (I saw it coming), hit the sun roof and it shattered. These things are made of tempered glass and you could see from the pattern of cracks exactly where the stone hit. We were lucky and the glass stayed in place. I suspect a contributing factor in it breaking was the cold temperature outside at the time. The sunroof tilts open, but does not slide.

In the garage at the cabin, I removed the sunroof as pieces were starting to pop out and I didn't want a shower of broken glass in our laps. I knocked all the glass out of the frame and taped a piece of 6 mil plastic sheeting onto the frame for the drive home. It held fine, even at 75mph (legal) going into a headwind. (No, it wasn't 200 mph NASCAR tape!)

My comprehensive covered all but the $250 deductible (sigh). I thought about looking for a used one at a pick and pull. Probably would do that next time if it happens again.

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