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  #1  
Old 09-19-2016, 09:14 PM
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Am I crazy, or in over my head?

So my W124 project is coming along, but obviously there is a lot of stuff in the idea/planning stages. My problem is that the more research I do about a particular job, and the more I learn, the more my project seems to expand. In the interest of efficiency, I'm trying to plan related jobs all at once, but I think things might be getting out of control.

Another factor is my skill level as a mechanic. I'm not terrible, and I'm reasonably bright, but I'm certainly a novice, and most jobs I try are first-time, learn-as-I-go affairs. I've done suspension work on my BMW 1 Series before (shocks & springs, front sway bar & end links) and it wasn't too difficult. Swapped out front springs a few times, actually. I also partially dropped the subframe, once, to access bushings.

So, I figure I can do springs and dampers on my W124, no problem. Which turned into a planned Sportline retrofit - fine, I can probably figure out the front LCA bushings, and can certainly do the front sway bar. What about the steering box? No idea, but I might as well check/change as many of the linkages as possible (tie rods, drag link, idler arm bushing, + steering damper). And then I wonder about the rear control arms - 5 links each side, but they're all easily accessible. Then I start thinking about the rear sway bar - ****, does the whole exhaust really need to come out? And the propeller shaft? Might as well change the rear flex disc, and then why not the front flex disc? Oh, because the transmission mount needs to be removed to access the front - better change that, too! But then there's the rear subframe bushings - dare I try to drop a 25-year-old subframe, and can I even press the bushings out myself?

I guess I could try to break this up into smaller jobs, but I's really rather just get knocked out in one fell swoop, and not have to worry about getting multiple alignments. But I'm worried about exceeding my skill level. To be honest, most of the work seems kind of fun, in a challenging sort of way, and much of it seems not terribly difficult, per se. Although something like a stripped or snapped bolt would really rain on my parade.

Any suggestions? Do I just dive right in and go for it (well, after proper planning, of course)? Should I break it up into smaller jobs? Should I farm some or all of it out to a professional? Keep in mind I'll be doing the work in my garage on jackstands, no lift. Got a decent set of tools, including an impact wrench, and enough vehicles to run to the store for an extra socket or whatever. Probably will take a week or so off of work to focus on getting it done without too many distractions.

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  #2  
Old 09-19-2016, 10:18 PM
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Do the entire rear end in one go. Drop the entire subframe and redo it all. No need to worry about rear end alignment as you can't throw it off that much no matter what.

This can be done in a weekend if you have access to a press. You want to budget a few extra days to do some rust control/ prevention. Also a good time to look at the rear brake lines.

Next tackle front end suspension and steering.

Just keep in mind that redoing the rear / front suspension will cost you about the entire value of the car. Good parts are not cheap! Your car will drive like a dream when done (in a 1990's sort of way)
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  #3  
Old 09-19-2016, 10:34 PM
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I did the entirety of the suspension on my 190E Sportline, really wasn't that bad except for finding a shop to press in new bushings (I didn't want to deal with that myself). I can't remember if I replaced both flex discs but I replaced at least one. Suspension work is easy, best to have a helper though. Much easier than working on an M103.
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  #4  
Old 09-19-2016, 11:16 PM
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Thanks for the vote of confidence, gents. To be honest, one thing the W124 has over my E82 is a tremendous amount of space underneath the thing, and a lot more room to work. Even with the car on the ground, I can crawl underneath the bumpers or peer enough to make myself familiar with the lay of the suspension links, exhaust tract, etc. I can actually see the front bump stops (they're shot, btw) just by peering into the wheel wells while the car is parked! Basically, it looks fairly friendly to work on for the end user - my biggest concern is rusted out, stubborn bolts. But man, I'm looking forward to swapping out some old grungy rubber with new. Gonna be pretty satisfying to basically replace the entire undercarriage. It's a huge job, but the more I look at it, the more it really seems quite do-able, given enough time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lorainfurniture View Post
Just keep in mind that redoing the rear / front suspension will cost you about the entire value of the car. Good parts are not cheap! Your car will drive like a dream when done (in a 1990's sort of way)
I guess cost is sort of the elephant in the room - I just keep telling myself it's much cheaper than buying a brand new E-Class, lol. Plus, they just don't quite make 'em like they used to, and chasing that old '80s charm is definitely part of the deal. I kinda just kinda of have my mind's eye on the finished product - there's a long way between here and there, and I can't really explain why it seems important to get there - but we're kind of weirdos like that, aren't we?

Quote:
Originally Posted by w123fanman View Post
I did the entirety of the suspension on my 190E Sportline, really wasn't that bad except for finding a shop to press in new bushings (I didn't want to deal with that myself). I can't remember if I replaced both flex discs but I replaced at least one. Suspension work is easy, best to have a helper though. Much easier than working on an M103.
Swapping bushings is one of my biggest reservations. I hate to have to pick up a special tool, but I also don't want to truck my subframe off to a shop, either. Probably just going to bite the bullet and try to rent a tool, or pick one up used. I'm still worried that it's going to be tough, though.

A helper would be a huge help. A few years ago I had a neighbor that would've gladly given me a hand, but I've moved a couple times since then, and don't really have anyone like that local to me. Bummer!
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  #5  
Old 09-20-2016, 09:35 AM
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Since we mentioned cost, obviously another consideration is parts quality. Obviously, it would be best to use genuine OE Mercedes-Benz parts, and part of me thinks if I'm going to be doing all of this work, then I should just save up and buy the best parts, and only have to do it once.

On the other hand, this is a 25-year-old car that does not have broad appeal as a classic. A casual observer probably sees on old piece of junk (the W124 has a very elegant, timeless design, IMO, but not the "classic" curb appeal of even the previous-generation W123). All that said, there is a not insignificant chunk of change to be saved by going with an OEM "off" brand, and I'm not necessarily building this thing to last another 25 years (but I don't want to be repeating this in 25 months, either).

So, I guess the simple question is strictly OE, or is OEM okay? And if OEM is okay, what are the best brands? I gather Lemforder is top of the bunch, at or near-OE quality. What about Meyle? A few steps cheaper still. Febi? I know Uro is supposed to be avoided at all costs, which doesn't surprise me, given their too-good-to-be-true pricing.

Thoughts?
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  #6  
Old 09-21-2016, 07:09 AM
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Bimmer-Bob, recommend using genuine MB suspension parts. Contact MB of Cincinnati and MB of Anaheim for pricing, and maybe other MB dealers who offer discount pricing. That's a job you certainly don't want to repeat anytime soon, and you want the vehicle to ride as-designed after you are finished. You may want to replace the engine mounts while you're at it.
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  #7  
Old 09-21-2016, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferdman View Post
Bimmer-Bob, recommend using genuine MB suspension parts. Contact MB of Cincinnati and MB of Anaheim for pricing, and maybe other MB dealers who offer discount pricing. That's a job you certainly don't want to repeat anytime soon, and you want the vehicle to ride as-designed after you are finished. You may want to replace the engine mounts while you're at it.
Thanks for the input.

Engine mounts already replaced with new Genuine OE mounts. Made a huge difference!
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  #8  
Old 09-21-2016, 01:03 PM
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I personally used OE, Lemfoerder, and a couple Corteco bits as those are well regarded brands. Sometimes I did find OE was cheaper than aftermarket. The shocks I had to get from Mercedes because Bilstein made them, just it was special order and would take 12-16 weeks to be produced then shipped. I have a few Meyle parts on my car installed by the previous owner that are good but really no savings going to them and hard to screw up parts (brake lines and steering damper). Meyle HD parts are supposedly good or better than OE but I have never tried them so I can't back up that claim. There is one URO part I would recommend and that is the antenna. Way cheaper than Hirschmann and quality seems top notch. Peachparts is good for aftermarket but there are others I would also recommend. I would also recommend for the rear end that you go to adjustable camber arms, I can get you details on that if you are interested. They allow the camber to be adjusted for more even tire wear versus the stock arms.

For pressing the bushings, I would suggest calling around to shops to see what they would charge, I had mine done for $140 which was the 4 subframe mounts and the 4 rear lower control arm bushings. I did have to remove everything including the diff and axles from the subframe to do it. I did have to shop around to find a shop that could even do it (called 2 dozen places) then to find one that would do it at a reasonable price. A Mercedes shop I went to who claimed on the phone to have a full Mercedes and BMW bushing press/puller kit wanted $600 to "attempt" to press in the bushings (they didn't have the full kit), so don't let people BS you around. The place I finally went was an old timey mechanic shop with a full machine shop, they mainly worked on domestic cars. They didn't have the correct Mercedes tools but did an excellent job. The machinist said it was a PITA but enjoyed the challenge and told me "if you have anything else interesting to work on, bring it to me".
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86 Yugo GV 48K
88 Yugo GVX 9K
90 300D 230K
90 Lexus LS400 189k
91 F150 4.6 4v 160K
93 190E 3.0 Sportline Limited Edition 230K
93 190E 2.6 Sportline Limited Edition 91K
96 MGM LS 242K- RIP
03 Sprinter Passenger 220K
06 MGM LS 105K-sold
Parts cars:
77 240D Auto-RIP
79 300SD- RIP
80 300SD
83 240D-RIP
85 240D-RIP
87 190D-RIP
91 190E 2.3- RIP
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  #9  
Old 09-21-2016, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by w123fanman View Post
There is one URO part I would recommend and that is the antenna. Way cheaper than Hirschmann and quality seems top notch.
I tried the URO antenna rod in a W124. Didn't even last one winter. The center rod rusted badly and seized, snapping the plastic feeder.
The original Hirschman is stainless steel.
The URO might be OK in good climates but if exposed to road salt, it will not last.
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  #10  
Old 09-21-2016, 04:05 PM
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On a W124 + W201 many suspension parts sold by the dealership are TRW. So there you have it!
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  #11  
Old 09-21-2016, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by w123fanman View Post
For pressing the bushings, I would suggest calling around to shops to see what they would charge, I had mine done for $140 which was the 4 subframe mounts and the 4 rear lower control arm bushings. I did have to remove everything including the diff and axles from the subframe to do it. I did have to shop around to find a shop that could even do it (called 2 dozen places) then to find one that would do it at a reasonable price. A Mercedes shop I went to who claimed on the phone to have a full Mercedes and BMW bushing press/puller kit wanted $600 to "attempt" to press in the bushings (they didn't have the full kit), so don't let people BS you around. The place I finally went was an old timey mechanic shop with a full machine shop, they mainly worked on domestic cars. They didn't have the correct Mercedes tools but did an excellent job. The machinist said it was a PITA but enjoyed the challenge and told me "if you have anything else interesting to work on, bring it to me".
The part of this project that has me the most worried is the rear subframe bushings. I intend to try to rent or buy the correct press or puller, but I don't really know what I'm doing in this regard, and don't have much of a back up plan if things go wrong. There is one Benz shop in town that I suspect could probably do it - he has a machine shop in-house - but I don't know about getting the subframe so far apart that I could easily transport it.

The other part that has me a little worried is the steering box R&R, because it's just sort of hard to visualize - is it just up on the other side of the driver's side wheel well? Also, it seems pretty fiddly from what I've been reading. Also, is it worth paying to have the "new" used box rebuilt before installing it? No idea how many miles are on the thing. Some folks say you just really need to change one seal, and that it's DIYable.

I should have access to a lift (on base), and am thinking about just renting a stall out for the week or so and taking my time.

Last edited by Bimmer-Bob; 09-21-2016 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 09-22-2016, 07:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bimmer-Bob View Post
... I guess the simple question is strictly OE, or is OEM okay? And if OEM is okay, what are the best brands? I gather Lemforder is top of the bunch, at or near-OE quality. What about Meyle? A few steps cheaper still. Febi? I know Uro is supposed to be avoided at all costs, which doesn't surprise me, given their too-good-to-be-true pricing.

Thoughts?
I am stocking up on all the parts for an "underside revamp" like yours. My policy is MB original or Lemfoerder ONLY.

Dampers will be Sachs and brake caliper repair kits ATE.

From reading forum comments, the other brands a less than reliable. I shall be paying to have this work done so I only want to do it once; not once again next year.

The only seriously costly parts were the lower control arms at 410 each. The Sportline spec arms are not available from Lemfoerder. Now their got and paid for. The parts I've still to get would be around 2000 pure MB versus 1200 using Lemfoerder/Sachs etc. when they are available. That's a difference I cannot ignore, especially as many people are even beginning to lose faith in MB parts quality.

My 2c worth.

RayH
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  #13  
Old 09-22-2016, 08:47 AM
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Bimmer-Bob, if you are handy and creative you could probably devise a tool with all-thread and structural shapes to remove/reinstall the sub-frame bushings. It's all a matter of time and the cost of that approach vs. transporting the sub-frame to a tech.
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Old 09-22-2016, 11:28 AM
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Break it up in chunks and tackle like a weekends worth at a time has been my philosophy as of late. I've Benz there done that as they say. I also try to group up projects that kinda go together by proximity.

The list of jobs needed to be done to my '92 300D is still a bit longer than the jobs that i have already done to bring the car back up as close to original comfort as can be.

Jobs done so far list includes: Glow plugs, new injectors, flex disc, turbo wastegate, shocks/struts, center console wood refinish, headlight bezel, hood pad, new water pump and thermostat, coolant flush

and most recently a full front end refresh including: Wheel bearings, brakepads, brake fluid flush, ball joints, sway bar bushings, LCA bushings, strut mounts, spring pads, tie rods, center link, idle arm bushings, steering damper, alignment.

I tried my best to go ahead and do as much of the front end "while i was in there" as i could think of. wish that i would have done brake rotors too during this but those are not difficult to go back to now. i can say from what i know now the front end is 100% DIYable... the bushing, the bearings and all in your garage.

Jobs needing to be done include: (in no order)
Figure out glow plug light malfunction, reattach 2.5 badge to trunk lid, fix 3rd brake light housing,install new stereo system, fix HVAC light bulbs, remove seats and clean carpets, fix driverside seat controls, fix sunroof, fix headliner, find new visor clips, swap white colored driver mirror, install new cabin air filters, clean HVAC blower and housing, fix center vent and defrost vents, check injection pump timing, re check timing chain stretch, install offset key if need be, new valve lifters, install block heater cord, get windows tinted.

and another bigger one that i'll probably be doing next will be to do a semi complete rear end rebuild. I plan on dropping the subframe to redo all the differential mounts, new rear LCA bushings inner and outer and four new subframe bushings. debating if i should or not go ahead for the whole enchilada and do all the bushings on the rear link arms while i'm at it.

Seems like a ton of work to do now that i type it all out.... Damn! better get busy. Always good to have some kind of helper or at the very least a companion of some sort. hand you thinks while you're underneath the car, open drinks for you while you keep your gloves on, DJ the music mix... you know what i mean?
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  #15  
Old 09-22-2016, 01:11 PM
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I have never done anything to my steering box, is yours actually leaking? I will be putting a rebuilt steering box into my brother's car but only reason for that versus rebuilding it myself is he got it for $100 and it was bought by the guy he got it from through MBUSA (guy worked in parts department, owned a 6.9).

If I were to break up the jobs, I would probably do front end then rear end. You may not have thought about it but this would be a good time to do the parking brake shoes, or at least adjust them. This would be done after putting the subframe back on the car.

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80 300SD 183K
83 300D manual 100K chassis
86 Yugo GV 48K
88 Yugo GVX 9K
90 300D 230K
90 Lexus LS400 189k
91 F150 4.6 4v 160K
93 190E 3.0 Sportline Limited Edition 230K
93 190E 2.6 Sportline Limited Edition 91K
96 MGM LS 242K- RIP
03 Sprinter Passenger 220K
06 MGM LS 105K-sold
Parts cars:
77 240D Auto-RIP
79 300SD- RIP
80 300SD
83 240D-RIP
85 240D-RIP
87 190D-RIP
91 190E 2.3- RIP
93 190E 2.6-RIP
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