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  #1  
Old 07-10-2005, 08:06 AM
zhandax
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300E suspension rebuild questions

I scheduled next weekend off to do a suspension rebuild on the 300E. The ball joints feel 'lumpy' on wheel lock turns in the parking lot, the brakes are almost shot, and the car spent its life until I got it on Long Island. After driving it down the LIE on the way home, I believe the suspension took a regular beating. Plus I have to pay attention to the sissy speed on the yellow signs on curves. I tried to quickly dodge a piece of garbage on the highway that I saw late one night and it almost felt like one of the wheels rolled under.

The first question is about Vogtland springs. Although there are tons of posts about Eibach and H&R, a search of Vogtland turned up 10 posts on the entire site. Mervyn says he loves the ones he put on a W126, and ksing44 said
Quote:
There are some guys on the forums saying great things about Vogtland springs. They claim that the Vogtlands are comfortable like Eibach and that the springs defy the laws of trigonometry by not affecting the rear camber even though they significantly reduce the ride height. This may be one of those things that sounds too good to be true, but I did check some reviews for Vogtland and they do sound like very good springs.
I imagine the camber thing is too good to be true, (does any one know?) but several other posters said they were planning to get or had gotten Vogtlands. Why has no one posted about how they like them? I mean they are made in Germany, one dealer who sells all three claims Vogtlands are the hands-down winner, and they are about $50 cheaper than Eibachs ($220 vs $277 both w/free shipping). Are Vogtland owners a secret fraternity with a superior ride or are they out in the garage saying "why did I do it?"

Speaking of camber, are there camber struts available to compensate for the change? Can a 4-wheel alignment compensate for a change in camber?

Next are the struts. After reading tons of posts, I am inclined to install Bilstein comforts unless there is something I overlooked which will require the sports. I like the bank vault ride, but want to be able to dodge a loose tire in the road without feeling like I am driving a limo. The car still passes the 'rock the fender' test, but at 120k miles, it seems foolish not to replace the struts/shocks. Are the struts available to replace inside the factory assembly, or are they only available with the assembly?

Next are bushings. I assume I cannot use Sportline sway bar bushings on a stock sway bar because of the 1mm smaller diameter? Which bushings can I replace with Sportline?

I plan to use 1-bump fronts with 3-bump rears. Experience with the 528 tells me to go ahead and replace the strut mounts. Of course the control arm bushings, the tie rods, the strut bellows, the bump stops. Is there much difference in the control arm repair kit available on eBay and the ones available from Phil or Rusty? Maybe new brake hoses and rebuild the calipers (seller unstuck one caliper before I picked up the car). Ballo rotors and Pagid pads. Have I left anything out? Also, is this the time to do the rear subframe bushings, or can it be done later without an alignment? In general, I am not as familiar with what I need to replace in the rear.

Sorry for the long post, but I am working on the shopping list.

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  #2  
Old 07-10-2005, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zhandax
I scheduled next weekend off to do a suspension rebuild on the 300E. The ball joints feel 'lumpy' on wheel lock turns in the parking lot, the brakes are almost shot, and the car spent its life until I got it on Long Island. After driving it down the LIE on the way home, I believe the suspension took a regular beating. Plus I have to pay attention to the sissy speed on the yellow signs on curves. I tried to quickly dodge a piece of garbage on the highway that I saw late one night and it almost felt like one of the wheels rolled under.
I'm not sure what "ball joints feel 'lumpy'" means, but to check the ball joints you should probably put the front wheels up and check for play in the wheel and at the joint. If the boots are torn on the ball joints or the tie rods, they will need to be replaced. Also check all of the rubber bits in the suspension, including the control arm bushings, sway bar bushings, strut mounts, rear control arms, etc. for cracks, gaps, play. The rubber bits (it's EVERYWHERE) make the car ride great and handle great, but when they wear out, they make the car ride poorly and handle poorly.

Quote:
The first question is about Vogtland springs. Although there are tons of posts about Eibach and H&R, a search of Vogtland turned up 10 posts on the entire site. Mervyn says he loves the ones he put on a W126, and ksing44 said
I imagine the camber thing is too good to be true, (does any one know?) but several other posters said they were planning to get or had gotten Vogtlands. Why has no one posted about how they like them? I mean they are made in Germany, one dealer who sells all three claims Vogtlands are the hands-down winner, and they are about $50 cheaper than Eibachs ($220 vs $277 both w/free shipping). Are Vogtland owners a secret fraternity with a superior ride or are they out in the garage saying "why did I do it?"
Are you planning on lowering the car or are the stock springs sagging? I don't know about the Vogtland springs, if I was going to lower the car I'd probably go with the MB Sportlines instead, since they are progressive rate springs.

Quote:
Next are the struts. After reading tons of posts, I am inclined to install Bilstein comforts unless there is something I overlooked which will require the sports. I like the bank vault ride, but want to be able to dodge a loose tire in the road without feeling like I am driving a limo. The car still passes the 'rock the fender' test, but at 120k miles, it seems foolish not to replace the struts/shocks. Are the struts available to replace inside the factory assembly, or are they only available with the assembly?
If you're going to lower the car, I would use Bilstein sports, since the comforts and the HDs are designed for the travel range of the stock springs. If you're not going to lower the car, the way to test the struts/shocks is to drive over some undulating/curvy roads at moderate speed, and see if the car wallows. 120k is a little early (my '87 went to 270k before I replaced mine), but if the streets are really bad in your area maybe not.

Quote:
Next are bushings. I assume I cannot use Sportline sway bar bushings on a stock sway bar because of the 1mm smaller diameter? Which bushings can I replace with Sportline?
Use the OEM bushings.


Although, if you really are going to replace everything (sounds like you are), I would just go for a full Sportline conversion anyways. The kit sold here has the springs, struts/shocks, sway bars+bushings, front CA bushings, and rear subframe bushings.
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  #3  
Old 07-10-2005, 06:49 PM
zhandax
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Some here have suggested that the Sportline kit did not lower the car that much. I have about 3.5" between top of tire and bottom of fender on the front wheels. I would expect a significant improvement in handling by lowering the center of gravity by 45% of that. Also I cannot see how a 1mm increase in sway bar diameter can give a comprable cost-benefit improvement.

Last time I checked (last year) the Sportline kit was up to about $1100. Looks like I can do the Vogtland springs, Bilstein comforts, rubber, (I already have the ball joints) for about 3/4 of that. The Vogtlands (and Eibachs) are also progressive rate springs. Supposedly the Vogtlands have the progression calculated by track testing (those Germans). The Sport struts are comprable to the HDs which according to one poster is 30% firmer than OEM; the replacement comforts are 15% firmer. Several suggested that the comforts would accomodate shorter springs. I really do like that bank vault ride.

Part of the problem with trying to read every post on the subject in a couple of weeks and make coherent decisions is differentiating two poster's opinions from concensus. I guess we formulate an opinion based on the posts which stick in our minds. And I find that other than a couple of threads I have open in seperate windows, I cannot remember who said what.

About the ball joints, 'lumpy' is the best I can describe the feel like the linkage hits a bump just before full turn. One reason I plan a full rebuild is I know the benefit of replacing 17yr old rubber. And although I have decent roads, the car spent its first 15 years on Long Island and I hit enough potholes leaving to convince me the suspension took a beating.
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  #4  
Old 07-10-2005, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zhandax
The Sport struts are comprable to the HDs which according to one poster is 30% firmer than OEM; the replacement comforts are 15% firmer. Several suggested that the comforts would accomodate shorter springs. I really do like that bank vault ride.
I spoke to an engineer from Bilstein on the telephone, and he told me that Comforts cannot accomodate shorter springs. If you are going with shorter springs, you will have to get the Bilstein Sport shocks / struts.
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  #5  
Old 07-10-2005, 08:10 PM
zhandax
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So Sports it is. Thanks for the timely input. I like the bank vault ride, but after 6 years in the BMW, it will be easier to take a few more bumps than to adjust my driving habits.
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  #6  
Old 07-11-2005, 12:21 PM
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Unless you have access to a press, you may want to look into getting complete control arms (with ball joints & bushings already pressed in).

When I did mine, I had a bear of a time finding a shop that could do the press work for me (they didn't have plates/fittings that could accomodate the MB bushings)

The dealer quoted me $300 for pressing the parts into the control arms (I think they just didn't want to do it). So I returned the bushings & ball joints, and bought control arms. It's a nice way to go for a DIY mechanic, because then you have all the parts you need when you start the job.

Check out FastLane at the top of the page... I believe the parts for your car will be around $250 per side.

Just some food for thought.

Jeff Pierce
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  #7  
Old 07-11-2005, 04:22 PM
zhandax
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I have since found a post where stevebfl said he had never seen a set of front control arm bushings wear out so I think for now I will just do the ball joints.

I don't think I will get to the rear links/bushings this weekend either as I need more time to research how to handle the camber issue. It sounds like the K-mac kits squeek over time so I will see if I can find someone to modify the camber strut as either Benzmac or MB Doc have suggested.
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  #8  
Old 07-12-2005, 01:21 AM
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Location: Ewa Beach, Hawaii
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I believe you can get some bolts from the Stealership for the front camber

For the rear cambers, try...
http://speedybenz.com

or

http://www.delsingmotorsport.com/mercedes.htm

Both are adjustable camber arms. When I lower my car, I will go this route.


suginami is right...if you lower your car, you'll have to get the "sport" shock. It was designed for lowered cars.
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1986 Gold 300E 4Dr automatic
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  #9  
Old 07-12-2005, 02:30 AM
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I've just started the same thing on my 86 300E. I'm planning on installing the complete Sportline kit in addition to replacing all the rear suspension links. Do the stock links allow for any camber adjustments that need to be made for the Sportline spring height? From what I've read they only lower the car about 1/4 - 1/2 inch. Is this enough to affect tire wear without compensating adjustments?

Thanks,

Gary
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  #10  
Old 07-12-2005, 04:02 AM
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Location: Seattle WA
Posts: 82
The lower control arms have some adjustment avalible to them with the stock ecentric bolts, but they have there limits.
A slight drop in ride hight may be within the adjustable range but of course you won't know what amount is to much until you get it all together and go into get the allingment done.

Getting the adjustable arms are a good way to go anyway incase you decide to play with the spring pads or springs in the future. You wont have to do any suspention removel.

I have a set of arms with the heim joints that I bought to install when all my other parts arrive, but as soon as they arrived a guy came out with a much better idea for street cars that requires no maintenence and use the stock bushings. So now I have a set of those on the way and if anyone wants a set of new heim style for 100.00 plus shipping (USA and Pay Pal only) they are yours but I think these are the way to go.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=33582&item=7986053351&rd=1&ssPageName=WDVW

Another thing to note is: When you have it all done tell the allingment guy even though the adjustable arms are on there not to use them to correct the negative camber until the lower control arm adjustment is maxed out then do the upper adjustment to get the spec. needed.

The reson for that is when you have the neg. camber and lowered body/fenders the more correction you make by moving the bottom of the tire inwards and the top of the tire outwards as little as possible, the better your tire to fender clearences will remain.

I hope that makes sence.

G/L
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  #11  
Old 07-12-2005, 06:44 AM
zhandax
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I like the concept of using OEM bushings but having one point of reduced diameter in the center of the span makes me nervous. Has anyone reported one bending?

Surely someone has had an alignment done to 1993 Sportline specs with the stock camber strut? I wonder how close to spec the camber can be with just the control arm eccentric? Here is a post I found while researching the camber struts posted above:

Quote:
Mach430
I still don't get why MB owners are so afraid of camber??? BMW customers love it! It helps handling, and believe it or not, in many cases helps tire life (due to MB's normally wearing on the outsides). Too much camber is a problem, but 2% is a good compromise.
I will admit, both BMWs I have owned had visible negative camber and do not get adverse tire wear. I saw a post where MB Doc said negative camber would make the car handle better. It is just that issue of tire wear. If adjusting to Sportline specs will prevent increased tire wear, I would consider the negative camber a plus. I had planned to replace two of the tires that came on the 8 hole wheels I bought on eBay (down to about .15" tread depth). I may wait about replacing them and try the Sportline alignment just to see the results. I will just leave the camber struts I have alone and replace the other 4 links. All it will cost is one more alignment.

If it is more desirable to make adjustment with the control arm rather than the camber strut, does anyone make an aftermarket eccentric that allows for more adjustment?

I am just thinking at my keyboard here.
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  #12  
Old 07-12-2005, 03:12 PM
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Phalcon51

I researched your question when I first considered dropping my car. I could never find an honest answer. Most say the camber will need an adjustment kit. OTOH some claim they didn't need a kit to correct their camber after using the eibach springs (because it didn't lower the car more than 1 inch)...so I guess you you won't know until the springs are on and you try to align it. Keep in mind, any type of lowering will affect the geometry of the suspension. So chances are you will need a camber kit.

zhandax

A slight negative camber is NOT a problem if buying new tires more frequently (approximately every 6mo or so) is NOT an issue. But since people are using 17, 18, 19, & 20 inch rims nowadays, tires alone can cost anwhere from $125 to $300 EACH. Mounting and balancing charges run approx another $100. I can't imagine spending $1,300 every 6months to change my tires. MB does have a lower suspension set-up (sportline) like the BMW. From my understanding that lowered suspension has no adverse affect on tire wear. But to replace your stock suspension to the sportline version, it'll cost $$$$ compared to aftermarket springs and shocks.


theairboy

Can you elaborate on your post/statement:

"But as soon as they arrived a guy came out with a much better idea for street cars that requires no maintenence and use the stock bushings."

I would like more information about this. Thanks.
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  #13  
Old 07-13-2005, 02:50 AM
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theairboy

Can you elaborate on your post/statement:

"But as soon as they arrived a guy came out with a much better idea for street cars that requires no maintenence and use the stock bushings."

I would like more information about this. Thanks.
-----------------------------------------------------------

Hiem joints are self lubracated or not.

Non lubed kinds require that you check them and lube them every now and then for longer life. The self lubed types are inpregnated with things like teflon etc. so you never have to lube them. Not an expert and don't know how long that would last.

The style that I was refering too with the stock (rubber) bushing seems apealing because I would think they would last the life of the OEM units and of course should be check periodicly with All the suspention parts.

As for the thin link in the middle of that style if you look close it looks like the links are made of roughly 25-30mm dia. tubing? The center link looks like its probibly 12-14mm solid thread stalk and that is probibly as large as any heim joint end (for this applacation).

These Speedtek arms are just out and dont know if anyone even has theres yet, but I wouldn't be suprised to see a lot of feed back on the 190REV forum in the near future. If I like mine I will be posting good feedback.

P/S excuse me for mucking up the quote.....
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  #14  
Old 07-13-2005, 06:44 AM
ksing44's Avatar
1995 E320 SE
 
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Be sure to complete your research

Quote:
Originally Posted by zhandax
The first question is about Vogtland springs. Although there are tons of posts about Eibach and H&R, a search of Vogtland turned up 10 posts on the entire site. Mervyn says he loves the ones he put on a W126, and ksing44 said
I imagine the camber thing is too good to be true, (does any one know?) but several other posters said they were planning to get or had gotten Vogtlands. Why has no one posted about how they like them? I mean they are made in Germany, one dealer who sells all three claims Vogtlands are the hands-down winner, and they are about $50 cheaper than Eibachs ($220 vs $277 both w/free shipping). Are Vogtland owners a secret fraternity with a superior ride or are they out in the garage saying "why did I do it?"
This guy is saying "why did I do it?
Be sure to read this about a Vogtland install
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Last edited by ksing44; 07-13-2005 at 06:56 AM.
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  #15  
Old 07-13-2005, 06:54 AM
ksing44's Avatar
1995 E320 SE
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Downingtown, PA
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Even bigger bars

Quote:
Originally Posted by zhandax
Also I cannot see how a 1mm increase in sway bar diameter can give a comprable cost-benefit improvement.
Go big or don't go
Link about swaybars with links to other links about swaybars

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I just couldn't give up on my 1995 E320.

I think it might be like always going back to that same bad relationship with an ex girlfriend.
You feel you love them too much, or you are just too stupid to know any better.



Flickr slideshow of my 1995 E320
http://www.flickr.com/photos/24145497@N06/sets/72157616572140057/
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