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Old 05-01-2001, 01:25 PM
Coming back from burnout
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: in the Pacific Northwest
Posts: 2,274
Originally my plan was to rebuild engine(231K), but presently its not using too much oil. I was driving the car and loving it until a friend told me he snapped a chain at
255K miles once. Is this true? If so the car goes up on stands tommorow!
Its one thing to replace a chain on an engine stand. Its altogether different when you are doing it in the compartment. About how many hours would this take? Its hot and I'm 40 not 20.
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Old 05-01-2001, 07:39 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Beech Island, S.C.
Posts: 468
timing chain

It's not too bad you won't even need to put it on stands. First remove the valve cover and so the engine can be turned easier remove the glow plugs. Remve the chain tentioner. You might want to get a friend to help you when you start replacing the chain. Be sure to hold the camshaft so it can't move while you take a link out of the old chain. Attach one end of the new chain to the old one using the new master link and then turn the engine by hand (I use a 22MM wrench and turn the power steering pump)clockwise while the friend holds the new chain pulling it tightly so not to let it jump any teeth. This is critical. While pulling the new chain with one hand pull out the old chain with the other hand. When you have threaded the new chain all the way through remove the old chain and attach the two ends of the new chain. Replace the chain tentioner. I don't do this step but it might make it easier. Run down all the valve adjusting nuts and remove the rockers. It's a little more trouble because you have to readjust the valves but theres less likely a chance of jumping a tooth this way.
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Old 05-01-2001, 08:23 PM
engatwork's Avatar
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Soperton, Ga. USA
Posts: 11,878
the way I did it

was to "tie-wrap" the chain to the cam sprocket. I would tie wrap then roll it approximately 160 degrees. Install new tie wraps in around the 9 o'clock position, remove the tie wrap in the 3 o'clock position and roll it again. The chain was ALWAYS engaged in the cam sprocket. Took about 6 of these cycles before the new chain was all the way in.
I have a photo if anyone is interested. I did not even have to have any help.
'85 300D
'95 E320
'97 CRV
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Old 05-01-2001, 11:20 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Beech Island, S.C.
Posts: 468
timing chain

Tie wraps work sometime. I tried this version of the replacement and the plastic tie wrap broke. Luckily the injector pump did not jump which I think is impossible anyway but from then on as long as I have someone to help me hold the chain tight against the cam sprocket that's my way.
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Old 05-02-2001, 10:02 PM
Posts: n/a
Hints for timing chain replacements on OM617:

1. Bring a friend. Best move you can make. You need two pairs of hands, one pair to feed the new chain and keep tension on the old chain as it comes out of the hole, and one pair to turn the crankshaft round and round until you're done.

2. Forget tiewraps, they break. Forget bread wire ties (don't laugh, I've heard of them being used). They break too. Small needle nose vise grips can be used, either with minimum tension directly on the chain and sprocket, or with rags protecting the sprocket and chain. I used them without the rags and just enough tension to hold them in place and they worked fine.

3. You can do the whole thing without taking the glow plugs out. It's just like turning the engine over during a valve adjustment. (Does anybody pull gp's for that?)

4. Stuff lots of rags around the open whole below the cam sprocket when you grind off the link. If you use a die grinder instead of a dremel, think very carefully about where the wheel is at all times.

40 isn't too old to do a timing chain change. It's really not too complicated, it's just that the consequences of a mistake are very high. Drop the chain, you're pulling the front cover. Drop the link plates, you're pulling the front cover, etc....

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Old 05-02-2001, 11:17 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Beech Island, S.C.
Posts: 468
there is no front cover

If you drop the timing chain it cannot be recovered. There isn't a front cover on a OM617 engine.
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Old 05-03-2001, 12:20 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2000
Posts: 459

I remember reading one time that someone rents the tools necessary to crimp the last link. Can someone repost that? And I'm also just curious about how they put the chain in at the factory if there is no front cover? Did they also use the crimp tool? If the chain snaps and I have to replace it (along with my rebuilt head are there timing marks on the flywheel,cam sprocket and injection pump to make sure everything is back in time again?

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Old 05-03-2001, 01:25 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Beech Island, S.C.
Posts: 468
Original chain

You can put a closed loop chain in as long as the crankshaft and all chain guides and sprockets are removed
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Old 05-03-2001, 01:56 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 223
I also heard that you should replace the guides when you replace the timing chain because its the guides that cause it to go bad in the first place. If your guides are going out the new chain will not last that long
1996 E320
2000 C230 Kompressor
1988 190e 2.3 - 225K miles, owned for 7 years. I cannot say enough good things about this car. Very well built, even at 225 it ran like new.
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Old 05-03-2001, 04:47 PM
Posts: n/a
Thanks for reminding me of no front cover, duh! I'm getting my engines mixed up since started dabbling in bricks too.

The chain guides on an om617 don't near as much as the v8s. The I5 engine has a simple loop for a chain path so there isn't much work for the guides if the tensioner is working. The v8 makes the chain change directions four times (even more on the new 3 valve engines and the older 4 valvers) so the guides take more abuse.

The chain crimper is pretty easy to use, the manual explains it pretty well. Actually the M103 engine manual explains it well, the om617 manual left me wondering so I checked the other engine manual. Anyway, if you drop the chain you get to do the "fun with magnets" trick or try your luck with a hooked tool until you get lucky.
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