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  #1  
Old 03-01-2009, 10:34 AM
84 500SL Euro
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 27
380SL engine rebuild possible/worth it ?

I've recently been told by two different independent mechanics that my '82 380SL is burning oil and needs a rebuild. If you floor it, a good bit of smoke comes out the exhaust and it is burning oil based on the necessity of occasional topping up.

Question 1: Given it's aluminum block, can it be rebuilt at less than an absurd cost, and, even if you do a lot of the work yourself ?

Question 2: If yes, to #1, what "minimally" should be done ? What "optimally" should be done to render the car usable for the longest period thereafter and avoiding "going back in" ?

Question 3: Recommended source of requisite supplies/parts/tools and procedure information, e.g. videos, publications, i.e. where's a good source of info on this process ?

Question 4: Given that future resale is of no consideration, that is, only future use,.... if a rebuild can't be done why not, or... why do you not recommend it ?


Question 5: Other than scrapping the car, alternatives to rebuilding that particular engine are ... ?

Question 6: Is any poster willing to be emailed personally regarding questions that arise during this process ?

Question 7: Has any poster done this to a 380SL and what caveats/recommendations do you have, please ?

If it matters, I'm in Atlanta.

BTW, time is no constraint since I have other wheels.

Thank you to all respondents,

Courtney
__________________
In Atlanta, ccthomas01@yahoo.com

'84 500SL Euro
WDB 107 046 ~
117 962 ~

'82 380SL US
WDB 107 045 ~
116 961 ~

'83 240D
'90 Audi Turbo 200
'91 Jetta GL Ecodiesel
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  #2  
Old 03-01-2009, 10:53 AM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 21
swap engines

Might consider finding a good engine and doing a swap. I've seen them sell at reasonable prices. You could take your engine a part and see what you have to do and if you don't have a bunch of worn out parts, rebuild yours at your leisure and have a good spare on hand.

Your burning oil problem is likely either worn piston bores, worn out/broken seized rings or worn valve guides. Worn valve guides will usually give you smoke when starting...flogging and smoke probably indicates oil blow by in the cumbustion chamber getting burned. If the car sits a lot you might have a stuck ring...you could try an engine flush (rislone or equilivent) and see what happens. If you get lucky and that's what it is and the ring frees up...it's a cheap fix.

If the car is still decent...I'd probably look for a good engine to swap. Probably cheaper and much less time consuming BUT the down side is you'll be installing a used engine. If a Benz engine is cared for properly and the oil got changed regularly, they usually last a long time. If you can find a used one that was cared for with low miles...that's your engine. Making sure you can see and hear the engine run will give you a good idea of what you are buying...

Granted a rebuilt engine is the best solution but you'll have lots of money invested not to mention lots of time. If you don't know how to rebuild an engine and have to pay someone to do it for you it's going to be costly. If you need new everything you may be in for a big machgine shop bill and and there's no way around that unless you have the equipment to do it your self...most people don't. I'd find a swap unless you have a real nice car and money and time are no object.

MarkG
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  #3  
Old 03-01-2009, 11:06 AM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: tampa
Posts: 255
Oil seals?

I assume that the oils seals are ok/new? That is all my 88 560SL needed at well over 200K. 380 engines are tough and long lasting. Maybe new seals is all you need. Simple job, not too expensive, worth a try unless you have super high miles.

J
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  #4  
Old 03-01-2009, 04:03 PM
ShadeTreeSLMech
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 7
I guess the decision is yours, based upon how much you want to keep the car. I found myself in the same position about five years ago with my 560sl. I chose to replace the engine myself with a rebuilt one from Noel's of Winter Park Florida. Not sure what he gets for an engine now, but mine was about $5K with trade-in (my engine was pretty well shot. If interested, Noel's can be found at:

http://noels.com/
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  #5  
Old 03-02-2009, 08:10 AM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 453
Quote:
Originally Posted by 84 500SL Euro View Post
I've recently been told by two different independent mechanics that my '82 380SL is burning oil and needs a rebuild. If you floor it, a good bit of smoke comes out the exhaust and it is burning oil based on the necessity of occasional topping up.

Question 1: Given it's aluminum block, can it be rebuilt at less than an absurd cost, and, even if you do a lot of the work yourself ?

Question 2: If yes, to #1, what "minimally" should be done ? What "optimally" should be done to render the car usable for the longest period thereafter and avoiding "going back in" ?

Question 3: Recommended source of requisite supplies/parts/tools and procedure information, e.g. videos, publications, i.e. where's a good source of info on this process ?

Question 4: Given that future resale is of no consideration, that is, only future use,.... if a rebuild can't be done why not, or... why do you not recommend it ?


Question 5: Other than scrapping the car, alternatives to rebuilding that particular engine are ... ?

Question 6: Is any poster willing to be emailed personally regarding questions that arise during this process ?

Question 7: Has any poster done this to a 380SL and what caveats/recommendations do you have, please ?

If it matters, I'm in Atlanta.

BTW, time is no constraint since I have other wheels.

Thank you to all respondents,

Courtney
I just went through exactly what you're asking about: 1981 black, 380sl 177k miles. Engine was smoking, oil and transmission fluid were leaking from various places, and the valves were clattering, but I just love the car. So I did a lot of research before I made a decision on what to do.

Although people were selling 107's for anywhere between $3500 and $12,000, almost every one of the cars had close to, more than, and usually much more than 100k miles. So I knew that the cars would almost certainly develop the same problems my car did sooner or later. Consequently, I decided to fix whatever mine needed as best I could in the hope that I could then get at least another 100+K miles out of it.

For 7500 + shipping + core, I could have gotten a rebuilt short-block from Metric Motors. So, if you have the ability to disassemble everything on the old engine, remove it, and install the new one yourself, you're not looking at too much more money. That is, unless you end up needing other things, which you almost certainly will.

For instance, if you havenít replaced the original injectors, this is the time to replace them and their seals. So add about $200 for these. Ditto for replacing the 2 rubber air distribution rails, crossover rail, and vacuum lines. Also, add $100 for 2 new MB branded motor mounts.

Don't forget that these are old cars. So things have a tendency to break when you tamper with them. Moreover, disassembling and correctly reassenbling all the electonics and vacuum lines on these cars is not as easy as it sounds.

OTOH, for $1500 + shipping + cores you can get 2 rebuilt heads. However the problem with that is the 380 has an aluminum block, and the threads on one or more of the head bolt holes will almost certainly strip when you try to torque the bolts. So, you have to tap the holes, and install heli-coils or, even better, Timeserts.

To do this, you need the drilling template MB designed specifically for this job, but you'd be better off having a pro who's done it many times before do it. That cost me $600, and having him replace the valve stem seals and guides with oversized guides cost me another $500 + the cost of the guides ($100) and seals (roughly only $15). Add $100 for head gasket sets, and you're looking at close to $3000.

While you're at it though, unless youíve replaced the timing chain, upper guides, and tensioner in the last 100k miles, you definitely want to replace these, too: Add $100 for the chain, $60 for 3 Meyle metal guides (forget about the $3.00 plastic Swag guides because theyíll break sooner or later). $40 for a tensioner, and $15 for the tensioner rail sleeve.

Also, this is a good time to replace that water pump, if you havenít already. So add 250 for a rebuilt MB branded water pump. So now youíre at $3500 ó but still less than Ĺ of getting a rebuilt short block.

What I ultimately decided to do was remove the engine so I could replace the leaking front and rear main seals, too. The best way to do this is to remove the engine and tranny together, which will allow you to also replace the front tranny and torque converter seals.

Since I had the engine out, I also decided to remove the timing case cover and replace the lower guides, oil pump, and pump chain. Although the lower guide rarely if ever break, MB recommends changing them at 300k, and I did notice that the timing chain had worn some deep ruts in the lower guides.

Since I already had the engine out, I also decided to replace my leaky steering box. So, if yours is leaking, as it eventually will, you may want to do this, too. If so, add another $250 for a rebuilt unit.

I did most of the work with the help of a local Indy, who only charged me for the time he spent helping me, and a fee for using his shop and tools.

So, all in all I came in at around $5k. Still way under the cost of the short block alone, and way, way under what MB or even another Indy would have charged me. (My guess is that it would have cost me over $10k for everything I did, especially if I didnít buy the parts myself.)

As for the time it tookó forget about it! It took me over two months considering the time it took me to find, order and receive the parts I eventually ended up needing, and the time the Indy could find for me between his other jobs.

If, however, youíve never worked on cars, and donít have the right tools, you may be biting off more than you can chew. Stripping any of the head bolts or other bolts can turn a difficult job into a nightmare, and figuring out how to do things even with the MB CD that youíll have to buy can be very difficult, as many people here can attest.

Still if you have the time, donít need the car, and want to learn everything you can about it, it can be a very interesting and worthwhile project.
Good luck!
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  #6  
Old 03-02-2009, 10:49 AM
meltedpanda's Avatar
Certified Benzaholic
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Central Ky
Posts: 5,422
you may want to go to double timing chains while your in there, but I'm with J
how many miles - and you may want to try some easy fixes first. have the valve covers been off for a look see?
__________________
Ron
99 E320 THE Queen Mary
72 450SL, Pearl-SOLD
04 F350 - Terminator
07 Mercury Mariner
07 Lexus RX 350 - Lexi
14 38HP John Deere 3038E Tractor -Mean Green
84 300SD, Benjamin -SOLD
71 220 - W115-Libby ( my first love) -SOLD
73 280 - W114 "Organspende" Rest in Peace
81 380 SL - Rest in Peace
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  #7  
Old 03-02-2009, 02:26 PM
84 500SL Euro
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 27
reply to J........

Quote:
Originally Posted by joselu43 View Post
I assume that the oils seals are ok/new? That is all my 88 560SL needed at well over 200K. 380 engines are tough and long lasting. Maybe new seals is all you need. Simple job, not too expensive, worth a try unless you have super high miles.

J
J,

This car has about 150K miles on it. I am not the original owner so don't know the currency of the seals.

Could you briefly describe what's involved in seal replacement ? I have the MB CD but haven't had time to look at what's there yet.

By the way, the idle is about 500rpms too high and I've been told that the idle control valve and it's computer need simultaneous replacement with only new components. Comment please ?

Gratefully,

Courtney
__________________
In Atlanta, ccthomas01@yahoo.com

'84 500SL Euro
WDB 107 046 ~
117 962 ~

'82 380SL US
WDB 107 045 ~
116 961 ~

'83 240D
'90 Audi Turbo 200
'91 Jetta GL Ecodiesel
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  #8  
Old 03-02-2009, 02:41 PM
84 500SL Euro
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 27
reply to Mark et al...

Quote:
Originally Posted by 450sler View Post
Might consider finding a good engine and doing a swap. I've seen them sell at reasonable prices. You could take your engine a part and see what you have to do and if you don't have a bunch of worn out parts, rebuild yours at your leisure and have a good spare on hand.

Your burning oil problem is likely either worn piston bores, worn out/broken seized rings or worn valve guides. Worn valve guides will usually give you smoke when starting...flogging and smoke probably indicates oil blow by in the cumbustion chamber getting burned. If the car sits a lot you might have a stuck ring...you could try an engine flush (rislone or equilivent) and see what happens. If you get lucky and that's what it is and the ring frees up...it's a cheap fix.

If the car is still decent...I'd probably look for a good engine to swap. Probably cheaper and much less time consuming BUT the down side is you'll be installing a used engine. If a Benz engine is cared for properly and the oil got changed regularly, they usually last a long time. If you can find a used one that was cared for with low miles...that's your engine. Making sure you can see and hear the engine run will give you a good idea of what you are buying...

Granted a rebuilt engine is the best solution but you'll have lots of money invested not to mention lots of time. If you don't know how to rebuild an engine and have to pay someone to do it for you it's going to be costly. If you need new everything you may be in for a big machgine shop bill and and there's no way around that unless you have the equipment to do it your self...most people don't. I'd find a swap unless you have a real nice car and money and time are no object.

MarkG
Mark,

Thanks for the comments.

What should be looked for after 'taking the engine apart' ?

It does sit a lot. I don't recall it smoking on startup. Only noticeable if flooring it from a dead stop.

Never heard of Rislone. I'll look into it.

Any suggestion on the algorithm for deciding on replacement vis-a-vis repair ? I don't see how this can be decided without removal then evaluation but maybe the better way is evaluation then removal. But both alternatives assume an evaluation technique, of which I need to, at least in general, be apprised.

I plan on tackling it with help, though not experienced with MB and a 380SL in particular.

About the only good news in all this is that time is virtually irrelevant :-)

Courtney
__________________
In Atlanta, ccthomas01@yahoo.com

'84 500SL Euro
WDB 107 046 ~
117 962 ~

'82 380SL US
WDB 107 045 ~
116 961 ~

'83 240D
'90 Audi Turbo 200
'91 Jetta GL Ecodiesel
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  #9  
Old 03-02-2009, 03:11 PM
84 500SL Euro
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 27
Smile reply to mbboy

Many thanks for the fulsome reply :-)

After pulling the engine&co. I'd at least:

1-replace injectors/seals, air rails, vacuum lines motor mounts

Are you saying that using anything but MB parts is a mistake ?

Given that I'm in Atlanta, can I not have the heads redone rather than buying others ? Where's the catch ? What exactly must be redone to 'em, other than replacing the valve stem guides/seals ?

I think I can borrow the drill template to which you refer, if necessary.

The water pump, double timing chain and steering box were recently replaced which is more reasons I'm motivated to repair the car.

2-Also, replace the engine, transmission and converter seals

3-replace the chain, oil pump and guides

I have the MB CD, have done a fair bit of work on vehicles, have a decent set of tools, and finish time is no problem, so........will give it a go, later, and meanwhile attempt to acquire necessary information.

BTW, what information did you acquire after underway, that was seriously helpful if not mandatory ?

I'm much encouraged that you and a few others have successfully done this and have shared your experience for which I profusely thank you all.

Sincerely,

Courtney
__________________
In Atlanta, ccthomas01@yahoo.com

'84 500SL Euro
WDB 107 046 ~
117 962 ~

'82 380SL US
WDB 107 045 ~
116 961 ~

'83 240D
'90 Audi Turbo 200
'91 Jetta GL Ecodiesel
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  #10  
Old 03-02-2009, 06:18 PM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: tampa
Posts: 255
Oils seals

Courtney, you have told us that you had been advised that the engine needed to be rebuilt, but you have not described your problems at any length, just that you had quite a bit smoke when you floored it. If that is your only problem, you might not need a rebuild. My 560SL did that and it drank quite a bit of oil too. New oils seals fixed all that. I am quite conservative when it is time to do radical things and since yoy are talking big time $$$ I would be even more so. Oils seals can be replaced without pulling the heads. You will find lots of posts on how to do it, much better that I can explain. The seals are cheap and you need only one special tool (can't remember the name). The procedure is time consuming - you have to do 16 valves - and may be painful if you are an old fart like me. If you are young it is a lot less so. While at it, change oil tubes -very inexpensive too. I would suggest that you describe your problem in detail here and ask. The people in this forum have done it all and will tell you if you indeed need a rebuild. My $0.02.

J
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  #11  
Old 03-02-2009, 07:12 PM
meltedpanda's Avatar
Certified Benzaholic
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Central Ky
Posts: 5,422
are you sure its blue smoke on flooring? None at start up after sitting?
May actually be normal.
In any respect I have an awesome contact in Atlanta area if you need parts and perhaps some direction
PM me if you like and I will give you some names
__________________
Ron
99 E320 THE Queen Mary
72 450SL, Pearl-SOLD
04 F350 - Terminator
07 Mercury Mariner
07 Lexus RX 350 - Lexi
14 38HP John Deere 3038E Tractor -Mean Green
84 300SD, Benjamin -SOLD
71 220 - W115-Libby ( my first love) -SOLD
73 280 - W114 "Organspende" Rest in Peace
81 380 SL - Rest in Peace
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  #12  
Old 03-02-2009, 09:01 PM
Lexxani's Avatar
MBCA Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Orlando, Florida
Posts: 699
probably valve guides or seals...

Here is a thread that I chronicling my top end rebuild, with pictures and a count by count play of what is involved its a few pages long so take your time.

look over it, if you have any questions, send me a message. The M116 and M117 are extremely similar.
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". . .back before accountants designed cars"

-Current Stable-
'78 MB 450SL-C 107.024.12.020783 #3840 <Kayleen>
'85 FORD F250 6.9L Diesel <Allison>
'98 Lexus ES300 <Rachel>
Long Gone...
'74 Chevy G10...........................'99 GMC Yukon 4X4
'83 Chevy Suburban 6.2 diesel .....'99 SAAB 9-5
'90 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS............. '01 Chevy Tahoe
'98 Nissan Altima .......................'02 MB ML320
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  #13  
Old 03-02-2009, 10:40 PM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 467
Lots of good advice posted so far. I'm in the midst of a rebuild of my 500SL (Euro) and What it boils down to is you can do as little as necessary to get by. Or, you can make it a major undertaking. I took the latter route.

This involved:

- Having the heads shaved--mere thousandths of a mm, but I was told it was necessary.
- Replacing valve guides (cause of the rough idle and smoking)
- Replacing lifters
- Replacing rocker arms
- Replacing tappets
- Replacing camshafts
- Replacing camshaft stands
- Replacing camshaft sprockets
- Replacing timing chain
- Replacing rails
- Replacing water pump and thermostat
- Rebuilding power steering pump
- Replacing radiator shroud
- Replacing oil pump
- Replacing oil pump chain

Then, since the top of the engine is rebuilt and really tight, you potentially run into compression problems because of wear on the rings. In my case, I didn't have a choice of whether or not to replace the piston rings. After we got the heads off and found the worn valve guides, we turned the engine to look at the cylinders. The #1 cylinder wall was scored due to a busted oil ring. So we wound up tearing the engine all the way down.

I would have probably stopped with just redoing the heads if I'd had a choice, but I didn't.

As you say, it's an aluminum block...which requires different handling. We shipped the block to Renntech, which is down around Miami. They bored the cylinder and treated the cylinder wall with, I believe, nitric acid...which eats away the top layer of aluminum and leaves a silicone cylinder wall. (I'm in way over my head here, but that's what my mechanic told me occurs.) They also reconditioned the other cylinder walls.

- Replaced the #1 piston with one that is oversized
- Replaced the crankshaft bearings--after polishing the crankshaft surfaces with 2000 grit sandpaper
- Replaced the rings...which had to be specially cut and sent to England to be chromed. You don't want to use unchromed rings on the aluminum cylinders. Also, my mechanic says you don't reuse rings.
- Rings now have to be filed, since there should be a gap btwn .020 and .035mm when installed. Mine butted flush, which is no good. Mechanic has ordered a ring file, which will be in Wed.

- Previously replaced the injectors and seals
- Previously replaced the warm up regulator
- Previously replaced the fuel distributor
- Previously replaced all the air line hoses
- Previously replaced the fuel pump

I know I'm forgetting a bunch of what is being done, but it's an extensive job. Believe my mechanic said book labor is about 60 hours. I might be a bit off on that, but it's a lot of time. I've done much of the labor and there is a lot more to do when putting it back together.

All my parts are at cost. I'm providing much of the labor; he's providing the brains. And he's cutting me slack on his labor. No way I can figure how the job could be done cheaper.

He also told me yesterday that we will likely have to helicoil a hole or two when reassembling the engine--unless we get mighty lucky. It has one helicoil in it already that we noticed when disassembling the engine. Don't know if that one will inherently cause a problem or not.

Lots of lessons learned during this experience. There are also a lot of "gotcha's" in the disassembly and reassembly process. I've got the MB engine manual for the 117.962 engine. Without it, we'd really be struggling for a lot of the measurements and values.

This is not a job for the faint of heart.
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'81 300D - 225,000
'82 300D (Euro) - Over 300,000 miles & donated to returning missionaries
'83 300D Turbo - 227,000
'85 500SL (Euro) - 141,000

Last edited by sublettd; 03-02-2009 at 10:49 PM. Reason: A couple corrections
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  #14  
Old 03-03-2009, 07:31 AM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 453
Quote:
Originally Posted by 84 500SL Euro View Post
Many thanks for the fulsome reply :-)

Are you saying that using anything but MB parts is a mistake ?

Given that I'm in Atlanta, can I not have the heads redone rather than buying others ? Where's the catch ? What exactly must be redone to 'em, other than replacing the valve stem guides/seals ?

The water pump, double timing chain and steering box were recently replaced which is more reasons I'm motivated to repair the car.

2-Also, replace the engine, transmission and converter seals

3-replace the chain, oil pump and guides

I have the MB CD, have done a fair bit of work on vehicles, have a decent set of tools, and finish time is no problem, so........will give it a go, later, and meanwhile attempt to acquire necessary information.

BTW, what information did you acquire after underway, that was seriously helpful if not mandatory ?

I'm much encouraged that you and a few others have successfully done this and have shared your experience for which I profusely thank you all.

Sincerely,

Courtney
In some cases, you should use original MB parts. In other cases, no. And in still other cases, maybe. Some people prefer to use all original MB parts. But you can often buy OEM or equally high quality Bosch, Febi, Behr, Mann, Meyle, ATE, Goetz, Elring and other German-made parts for a lot less at Fast Lane, where Phil will give you a lot of help, or elsewhere on the Net. Based on what people here have found, though, you should definitely use original MB motor mounts.

If you're heads aren't seriously warped or cracked, changing the guides, a little milling and a pressure test is probably all you'll need, and that shouldn't run you more than $500 including guides and seals.

If you're planning on doing the inserts yourself, you've got more guts than I do. I understand it's a tedious process, and making a mistake can ruin your block. To wit, there's a 380sl sitting in a shop around here because the tap broke off in one of the head bolt holes, even though the mechanic had done that job many times before.

Take as many pictures as you can of everything before you remove anything. That way you'll be able to refer back to the pictures when you can't remember how things went. Also, get some freezer bags of different sizes to keep parts together with their nuts, bolts, and washers. And label them in a way that won't come off when they get greasy and oily.

You can ask questions here when you run into problems, as a number of people here have already done what you're doing.

Good luck, again.
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:31 AM
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