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  #1  
Old 01-06-2017, 11:33 PM
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The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL

I've promised a "Diseasel" thread in the LTB forum for nearly a year, and here it is finally! Laziness and a lack of time don't contribute to timely postings, especially long-winded ones.

The back story on the car starts in 2007 when I decided I wanted Mercedes diesel in my life. I grew up in the 90s in Corpus Christi, and they were EVERYWHERE! Still are actually... I remember the sight, the smell, the sound, and I decided I needed my own.

I'm the type of person who likes to find old cast-offs that nobody gives a second look, fix them up, and keep them as my own. I decided my Mercedes needed to fit this requirement as well, so I set up some criteria:

- Needed to be a W123 or W126 with a Turbo, preferably a 617 since they were easier to find.
- Needed to be mostly complete, and without major body damage or signs of wreckage
- Needed a clear title (Title in Hand) from the seller
- Total budget for purchase price (including taxes and title fees) needed to be $1K or less

Not an easy task. The impossibly low budget ruled out anything "nice" and seemed to set me up with some of the flakiest sellers of vehicles I've ever run across.

I set aside $1000 in January 2007 for the car. Over the ensuing years, I must have looked at over 150 cars in the area, from San Antonio to Austin to San Angelo, even one up in Abilene. Nothing ever came through, the sellers were flaky, the cars had serious problems, price was too high and seller wouldn't budge, engine had major malfunctions, body damage, etc.

Flash forward to January 2016. I had an appointment lined up to see an '83 300SD in San Antonio, and the seller flaked out as usual. No response, not answering calls, texts, etc. Ad posting still showing. *Sigh* I decide to search the usual places one last time, and come across an ad I'd skipped for an '86 300SDL. Called the seller and left a voicemail, fully expecting to never hear from them again. Lo and behold, I get a call, the car is available, and the seller screens ME to find out if I had any idea what the car was (this was new to me). We hit it off and I go down to see the car.

Before I agreed to see it, I got the whole rundown and back story on the thing. It had been traded into a used car lot in 2006 (registration tags expired March 2007) and the owner was a fan of MB diesels. He had intended to restore the car for his own vehicle, but never happened. The car sat in the lot's inventory, but in a back field for years until they decided to sell it off (enter the CL ad). The car ran - poorly, but was otherwise complete. The paint was rough from sitting in the Texas sun for 10 years, and the interior is a bit crispy, but overall, it seemed like a decent starting point. Seller agreed to a fair price and the total cash outlaid came out just below my $1K budget.

The interesting part about the car is that since it had never been transferred out of the car lot's inventory, it had never been re-titled. Only 1 owner had it before me, so I'm technically (and legally) the 2nd owner.

The interesting part being that the car was parked just about the time I started looking...like it was waiting for me to find it. Freaky...
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'11 Honda Accord EX - "The Daily" 60K
'83 500SL Euro - "The Money Pit" 116K
'86 300SDL - "The Diseasel" 179K
The Diseasel Thread - Everything You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know
Delivery Valve as Source of Nailing Thread
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  #2  
Old 01-06-2017, 11:36 PM
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So here it is (as it was) when it came home, and after a quick bath to remove all the cedar pollen and lichens growing on the paintwork. The paint was physically rough to the touch, and the clear coat on the hood (guessing it was repainted at some point?) is in tough shape.
Attached Thumbnails
The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_1919.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_1920.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_1921.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_1922.jpg  
__________________
'11 Honda Accord EX - "The Daily" 60K
'83 500SL Euro - "The Money Pit" 116K
'86 300SDL - "The Diseasel" 179K
The Diseasel Thread - Everything You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know
Delivery Valve as Source of Nailing Thread
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  #3  
Old 01-06-2017, 11:41 PM
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Now for the source of the name: "The Diseasel"

One of my good friends has been helping me with the car since looking at it the first time. When picking it up, the interior was pretty dirty and smelled stale (gee I wonder why), but the smoke from the exhaust...Holy cow!

Car burned oil from the usual reasons (turbo seals, valve stem seals, stuck rings, etc), but was running (poorly) on 3.5 cylinders (2 dead misses, 1 intermittent). The smoke was pretty epic and extremely acrid (the picture simply doesn't do it justice).

My friend said "you can catch a disease from this thing...you sure it's a Diesel and not a Diseasel?" And there you have the source of the name...it's been stuck to it ever since!
Attached Thumbnails
The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_1925.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_1927.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_1929.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_1917.jpg  
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'11 Honda Accord EX - "The Daily" 60K
'83 500SL Euro - "The Money Pit" 116K
'86 300SDL - "The Diseasel" 179K
The Diseasel Thread - Everything You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know
Delivery Valve as Source of Nailing Thread
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  #4  
Old 01-06-2017, 11:52 PM
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Over the last year, things started happening to the car to get it back on track.

Immediately it was noticed that the turbo wasn't spooling at all. Out it came for rebuild. Discovered the boost line was completely rotten (crumbled when touched) and the E-clip on the wastegate rod was missing so the wastegate was stuck wide open.

Next was trying to get the engine running halfway decent. I tried many things, before finally determining that the injection pump had major problems. You can follow the saga in the 2 threads I had running at the time:

1986 300SDL Shake, Rattle, and......miss?

300SDL - IP Issues?

In the interim, the head was pulled for inspection and to have new valve guides and seals installed. Head is the original #14 head and checked straight (no warpage) and showed no cracks. The engine wasn't consuming coolant or pressurizing the cooling system prior to head removal (and still doesn't to this day).

While the head was off, the tappets were disassembled and cleaned/refurbed and the chain tensioner got the same treatment. They were all gummed up with goop and needed it desperately. I'm happy to say that my tappets are all still quiet as a mouse.
Attached Thumbnails
The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_1912.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_1950.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_2076.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_2077.jpg  
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'11 Honda Accord EX - "The Daily" 60K
'83 500SL Euro - "The Money Pit" 116K
'86 300SDL - "The Diseasel" 179K
The Diseasel Thread - Everything You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know
Delivery Valve as Source of Nailing Thread
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  #5  
Old 01-07-2017, 12:07 AM
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As the engine was worked on, many parts got repaired and replaced. Cracked expansion tank, radiator that I put a wrench through (expensive mistake!), vacuum pump (old one was fine, but was original), engine and transmission mounts and shocks, belt tensioner, valve cover gasket, and of course new head gasket and studs.

Engine still ran like hell. Shaking, rocking, missing out like hell, smoking like a train, refused to idle, stalled a lot.

Turns out the original injection pump had a rear ball bearing failure on its camshaft. How the car ran is a mystery, but it did. Cylinders 1,2, and 3 worked, but 4 was intermittent, and 5 and 6 had dead skips despite having good compression and good injectors. Originally thought it was fuel pressure related due to the overflow valve being wide open so I installed a new one. No help.

Decided to go the used IP route and took a gamble on one from fleapay. Seller guaranteed it and it came with some extra spare parts that were useful to me, so it was a calculated risk. Got it installed and guess what....it would run on all 6 cylinders, but it REFUSED to idle and REFUSED to rev up! REALLY WEIRD! Eventually tracked it down to being a tired IP and had some varnish sticking things together. In addition, the NEW (Mercedes OEM) POV turned out to be bad!

OM60x Pressure Relief / Overflow Valve

Tired of fooling with it, I placed a WTB on this forum and wound up with a good working pump from a 350SDL (more on that later). This time, there was success. Car ran like it was supposed to and on all 6 cylinders. Idle good, revving good, smoke much more tolerable.

At this point, the engine got reassembled and all the auxiliary bits reattached, rubber vacuum fittings replaced, and missing items like the washer bottle reinstalled in the car.

In an attempt to track down some electrical gremlins, I started a post (my first post on this forum in fact) in May regarding a fuse that kept blowing.

'86 300SDL Popping Fuse 11

This was a problem since every time the headlights were turned on, the fuse would blow - taking out the right side turn signal and parking light. In Texas, that's an inspection failure, not to mention I'm not a fan of using my car with blown fuses.

Ultimately I found faults in the headlight wiring due to a chafe and discovered a melted mess of wires in the fuse box. I cut out all the bad wiring and replaced, but still had the fuse blowing. I eventually determined that the fault is in the right side headlight wiper motor. The wiring harness is good, but the motor reads shorted, so it is unplugged for now. The fuse I pulled out of the holder when I got the car was a 25A fuse, when the legend calls for 8A. I'd imagine that was the source of the melted wiring!
__________________
'11 Honda Accord EX - "The Daily" 60K
'83 500SL Euro - "The Money Pit" 116K
'86 300SDL - "The Diseasel" 179K
The Diseasel Thread - Everything You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know
Delivery Valve as Source of Nailing Thread
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  #6  
Old 01-07-2017, 12:21 AM
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After getting the car put back together, I went through the extremely complicated process of getting the car to an inspection station.

Last year Texas changed their laws and processes to where the safety inspection sticker and the registration sticker are merged into one process. While this sounds great on paper (and simplifies the process for the average driver), it made things complicated for me to get the car inspected and registered. The car was "Title Only" and as a result was illegal to drive on the road. To be legal it needed a license plate and registration, but to get that it had to be inspected. To be inspected, it needed license and registration to be driven on the road for testing.

Apparently I was the first person in the county with this problem, as they had 6 clerks on duty that day, and not one of them knew what to do. They got out the law book and it didn't cover it either. After an hour on the phone with Austin, they still weren't any further ahead. Ultimately they gave me 2 temporary plates (one for the trip to the inspection depot and one for the return home) and a handwritten/signed note explaining what was going on "in case I got pulled over".

Long story short, the place I took it to installed 4 new tires (the 10 year old dry-rotted tires were still holding air if you can believe it) and put it through the inspection process. It passed!

Went back to the courthouse with the inspection certificate and completed the registration process and the car went legally back on the road the Friday before Thanksgiving.

The first few miles were not without their problems though. The engine ran fine, but the smoke was pretty epic every time you took off from a stop. After some hard romping on the loud pedal, the heavy smoking went away. The car still needs a good long drive on the highway, but still a few things standing in the way before I trust it enough for that to happen.

After sitting for so long, the shocks were completely gone, unsurprisingly, which caused a very interesting "effect" when you went around a left hand turn - the low oil warning light would come on. Going up hill or turning left would show you up with that fun yellow light. Got really annoying since the oil level was never below 3/4 up the dipstick at any given time.

Overly "cautious" low oil warning light

After driving the car for a bit, I noticed some really weird tire wear on the front left tire which turned out to be from the body striking the tire from blown shocks.

Weird Tire Wear

After seeing that, it was time for shocks. The wallowing and exhaust pipe dragging were getting old and that overly cautious warning light was really starting to piss me off. After a long debate on the forum, I settled on Bilstein B4 HD's and couldn't be happier with the decision. The guys saying they're too firm must have back problems or something!

Shocks - Comfort/Standard vs. Heavy Duty

Replacing the shocks improved the ride tremendously and eliminated the wallow/roll in the turns. As a nice side effect, it raised the ride height about 2", so no more belly dragging or body scuffing.
__________________
'11 Honda Accord EX - "The Daily" 60K
'83 500SL Euro - "The Money Pit" 116K
'86 300SDL - "The Diseasel" 179K
The Diseasel Thread - Everything You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know
Delivery Valve as Source of Nailing Thread
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  #7  
Old 01-07-2017, 12:30 AM
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With the cold weather upon us, shorter days (stupid winter time change), and since the car now sits at my house, I turned my attention to fixing some interior issues and other annoyances.

I decided to kill several birds with one stone and fix several problems all at once. I recapped the cruise control amplifier, replaced several burned out lights in the cabin and dash board, repaired the electrical switches for the windows, rebuilt the window regulators, recapped the tach, clock, speedometer, and multi-gauge, cleaned the "cancer spots" off the gauge faces, painted the gauge needles, bought a new (perfect condition) gage cluster off FleaPay, installed a new ignition switch and ignition switch tumbler, replaced the outdoor temp readout, and repaired the sunroof.

After all the repairs, things had improved tremendously, but the starter motor decided it needed to intermittently work. Gear lever had no effect, and you could hear the solenoid clacking under the hood. Pulled the starter motor to find out that whoever had rebuilt it slathered the whole core of the solenoid with thick axle grease! Cleaned that mess up and it's been perfect since.
Attached Thumbnails
The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_0416.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_0487.jpg  
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'11 Honda Accord EX - "The Daily" 60K
'83 500SL Euro - "The Money Pit" 116K
'86 300SDL - "The Diseasel" 179K
The Diseasel Thread - Everything You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know
Delivery Valve as Source of Nailing Thread
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  #8  
Old 01-07-2017, 12:32 AM
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After working on the interior, I turned my attention to the paintwork. I'd wanted a decent buffer, and this was my excuse to buy one.

Took several hours of buffing over several days, but I got the car buffed out and looking presentable. Hood still looks rough, but not much I can do about that until I break down and have the car repainted someday.
Attached Thumbnails
The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_0489.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_0490.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_0491.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_0495.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_0492.jpg  

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'11 Honda Accord EX - "The Daily" 60K
'83 500SL Euro - "The Money Pit" 116K
'86 300SDL - "The Diseasel" 179K
The Diseasel Thread - Everything You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know
Delivery Valve as Source of Nailing Thread
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  #9  
Old 01-07-2017, 12:34 AM
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Still for 30 year old Texas-Sun-Burned paint, the results really aren't bad! I'm not embarrassed to drive it around.

I did uncover a "delightful" message keyed in the trunk lid under all the grime. See if you can tell what it says...

I won't repeat what it says on the forum...I like to think of it as a message to tailgaters: "If you can read this..."
Attached Thumbnails
The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_0505.jpg  
__________________
'11 Honda Accord EX - "The Daily" 60K
'83 500SL Euro - "The Money Pit" 116K
'86 300SDL - "The Diseasel" 179K
The Diseasel Thread - Everything You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know
Delivery Valve as Source of Nailing Thread
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  #10  
Old 01-07-2017, 12:56 AM
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I have also cleaned the interior, including shampooing the carpets and cleaning all the dust and grime off of everything.

Cleaned up the engine compartment, and just recently had to troubleshoot an issue with the glow plug relay. From Day 1, the light on the dash would just flash, but the relay would stay pulled in for ~20 seconds or so giving plenty of time for the car to start with ease. Suddenly it went to ~5 seconds or less, and re-cycling the key would give a 1 second pulse. Uh-oh. I decided to pull the relay apart and found 3 capacitors on the circuit card. Replaced those and lo and behold - not only did the relay work properly, but I got my dash light back!

Glow Plug Relay Troubleshooting...

After driving a bit (and having to honk at someone) the airbag on the steering wheel split and was showing. To FleaPay I went, and just happened to find an entire Leather steering wheel with airbag for less than what most airbags were going for. Since the plastic wheel was a bit baggy anyway, I decided that was the way to go!

There are still issues to work out with the car in 2017. Because I have a 3.5L injection pump, the redline is lower than stock (fuel cut is around 4700 RPM instead of 5100). Max power on the 3.0L engine is at 4600 RPM, and realistically this is a pretty high redline for a stock configuration, so I'm fine with the 4700 RPM fuel cut. The issue is the bowden cable adjustment. With the stock setup, it wants to shift ~4600 RPM at WOT, so when lead-footing it, you can get in a situation where the engine revs and hovers at the fuel-cut before suddenly shifting. The transmission doesn't flare (though it is slow to shift at times, filter and fluid are on the list of things to do in 2017) and shifts into Reverse or Drive in roughly a second, even when cold. The bowden cable adjuster is cracked (petrified plastic), so I'm reluctant to turn it in at the moment. Replacing it, or bodging the adjuster is on tap for 2017 so I can tune the shifting lower. As it is, the shift points are manipulated with the accelerator pedal. Backing off slightly when you want to shift, seems to cause it to upshift immediately.

I also intend to adjust/fine-tune the injection timing. The diesel "cackle" at idle is relatively loud, and having listened to other people's OM603's on Youtube, it seems a bit excessive - sounds very much like a Cummins Dodge. Anything off idle, or with the engine under load it's remarkably quiet - people often comment when they're riding in the car "This is a diesel? Why's it so quiet?". I know the IP base timing is slightly advanced and needs to be retarded slightly to put it in stock spec. When it was running on Diesel Purge, we thought the engine had stalled. It was quieter than most gas engines, believe it or not. Once the purge was finished and it was running back on diesel fuel, the idle clatter came back.

There is also an injector that nails when "warm" as the engine heats up or when doing a lot of in-town driving at low RPM's. I had Cylinder #2 knocking loudly and discovered that one of the Monark injector nozzles I had installed was "peeing" and not seating properly. Replaced that injector with a spare Bosch I had, and that problem went away. Within the next month I intend to pull the injectors and do another balance/pop-test to see what's going on.

The other big 2017 project is to track down a driveline vibration between 60-80mph. The carrier bearing is slated for replacement, diff mount, subframe mounts, flex disks, and U-joint inspection are all coming up this spring or summer.

If I get the time and feel like putting in the effort, I may work on getting the A/C functional as well. The monovalve was full of muck and stuck wide open causing a full-heat condition. Cleaning out the sediment and reinstalling took care of that issue and I've had perfectly functioning heat so far all winter. The aux pump is dead and unplugged. Heating system works fine without it, so I'm not entirely sure what its purpose is.

As work progresses on the car and things happen to it, I'll be back in this thread from time to time to update and post progress reports. Should be interesting to see how it pans out. I really like the car and certainly intend to hold onto it for quite a while, I enjoy working on it and it seems to love the attention.

I swear that car turns more heads than the SL does! Mostly because people see it, then they hear it - so many people are surprised it's a diesel! I can't even count the number of times people have asked if I've converted it: "No, it's stock..."
Attached Thumbnails
The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_0497.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_0499.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_0504.jpg   The "Diseasel" - '86 300SDL-img_0511.jpg  
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'11 Honda Accord EX - "The Daily" 60K
'83 500SL Euro - "The Money Pit" 116K
'86 300SDL - "The Diseasel" 179K
The Diseasel Thread - Everything You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know
Delivery Valve as Source of Nailing Thread
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  #11  
Old 01-07-2017, 08:41 AM
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looking good
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  #12  
Old 01-08-2017, 09:35 PM
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Very nice. Makes me miss my 300SDL
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  #13  
Old 01-10-2017, 08:46 PM
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Thanks for the comments. It's nice to know that people read these threads. They can get pretty long-winded, especially if I'm the author!

It's been a love-hate relationship with this car. For the longest time, I was kicking myself for bringing it home, it went from headache to nightmare there for a while. When you have SO MANY things going at once, you sort of lose track of where to even begin? After the engine and everything decided to behave and things went back together, I've grown quite fond of the car. It has its moments when it pisses me off, but for the most part I love driving it. Turns more heads than the SL!

Today's task was to fix the exhaust that drags on *EVERY* *SINGLE* *DIP* in the road. Took the thing to supper the other night with 4 passengers and it was nearly a constant exhaust drag. VERY annoying! Especially since I had just installed new shocks, I was SURE that would take care of the problem!

Well it didn't. Turns out when I reinstalled the exhaust, I didn't get it tight enough and it had sagged, so the entire mid-pipe was hanging down ~4" below the car. I pulled off the muffler, loosened up the bolts on the mid-pipe flange and used a floor jack to hold the middle muffler in position while I tightened the mid-pipe bolts. Reinstalled the muffler and marvelled at my work! The entire exhaust raised up ~3.5", and the shackle that was dragging the ground was up even higher than that!

Borrowed 3 friends and went for a drive. On a local road that I couldn't do more than 35mph on without the exhaust dragging in an empty car, I was able to do 65mph with 3 passengers in the back seat and didn't drag once! Success!

The design of the exhaust system on the car is such that it's a real PITA to get everything lined up and held in place. I don't know how other people have done it in the past, but it seems like you need a lift and 2 people to do it easily. Ramps and some cardboard on the floor doesn't make for an easy process.

Next task on the agenda: Repair the front seats. Stay tuned...
__________________
'11 Honda Accord EX - "The Daily" 60K
'83 500SL Euro - "The Money Pit" 116K
'86 300SDL - "The Diseasel" 179K
The Diseasel Thread - Everything You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know
Delivery Valve as Source of Nailing Thread
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  #14  
Old 01-11-2017, 11:03 PM
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Posts: 166
Curious....

Nice thread. This car was for sale in San Antonio? Was it a small used car lot on a corner near San Pedro and Basse? I ask because I'm pretty sure I looked at that car back when I worked in San Antonio (maybe in 2009?). I remember the nice message someone wrote in the paint on the trunk. I also remember that the guy I spoke with at the lot (the son of the lot's owner) told me his dad loved the MB diesels and had given someone about $1500 in trade on the SDL, but that it didn't run right and he was prepared to sell it for what they had in it. I walked away because frankly, I figured (didn't run right) + (1986 3L 6cyl diesel) = bad head. It also looked like they had tried mess with the injection pump. The battery was dead and their booster wasn't charged up so I never heard it run (or attempt to run). Glad you got it and saved it. It looked like it had seen some love in its life...
-Chris
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'06 Mercedes E350 station wagon
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'85 Mercedes 300D (#1) sold back to orig. owner after 5 years on 8-1-06.
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  #15  
Old 01-11-2017, 11:20 PM
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That's the one. I knew what I was getting into before I pulled the trigger on it. It's surprising how much of the car is original, at some point in its life someone cared for it. The engine was a gamble, but luckily the head is good. IP was junk, but fortunately that was taken care of thanks to another member of this forum. Body is straight and rust-free. Has a few hail whacks, that'll get taken care of eventually when I get the hood repainted.

It'll be an interesting ride fixing it up. It has a lot of potential, just needs a lot of elbow grease and TLC to get it there.
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'11 Honda Accord EX - "The Daily" 60K
'83 500SL Euro - "The Money Pit" 116K
'86 300SDL - "The Diseasel" 179K
The Diseasel Thread - Everything You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know
Delivery Valve as Source of Nailing Thread
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