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  #1  
Old 08-26-2002, 09:00 AM
1992300e
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Larrybible - Manual wheel alignment

Hi all,

Hope Larry is out there. I am completing front end work on my 1992 300e, ball joint, right and left tie rod assemblies. I now need to do my allignment.

I read your earlier post (did search) on manual allignment. I understand the premise of an allignment and look forward to doing my own, don't trust anyone.

You wrote that you vise grip a nail to a jack stand and scribe at the tread. I am sorry but I can't envision. Do I scribe in-between the treads of the tire? if so, how would I do that? I am guessing the threads will not be straight and nail will just be pushed around by the treads. I am sure it's me not getting it, happens all the time.

I think the point is to get something "a line, mark" from where to measure.

I am really looking forward to doing my own allignment. For my car should there be zero toe in?

Thanks a gain, you've helped me more than once.

PS> I have searched and searched the web, I can not find the tie rod seperation tool anywhere for my car, any suggestions, I hate to use pickle fork (have one).

Joel
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  #2  
Old 08-26-2002, 10:33 AM
LarryBible
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Last question first; I do not use a pickle fork unless my first method does not work, which is a rare situation. I remove the nut and then using a good size hammer, strike the end of the spindle arm perpendicular to the centerline of the stud thread. The tie rod end stud is tapered, so striking the side will often pop it loose.

Using the nail on the jackstand, you basically use this much like a lathe to scribe a line around the center, or somewhere on the raised portion of the tread from which to measure. The tires rarely seat on the wheel with the tread perfectly aligned with the wheel, so the scribed line takes care of this variable.

Good luck,
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  #3  
Old 08-26-2002, 11:46 AM
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I have had good luck on the MB (and many other cars) using a small 2-arm puller for steering balljoints. No damage this way.
There are many specialized tools marketed for this purpose.
Pickle-forks should be a last resort solution, because the rubber boots are very likely to get damaged.

Of course, if Larry's big hammer method works, I may stop using pullers altogether. I really like using a big hammer whenever the chance arises. What is the MB part number for the special 4.5Kg (12 Lb) balljoint removal service tool?

Back to pullers for a minute.
If I were buying a new puller, I would consider buying a Posi-Lock puller over the standard design. I just hate when my puller slips off...

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1986 300E 5-Speed 240k mi.
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  #4  
Old 08-26-2002, 12:58 PM
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Pardon me if I was gigling to loud. I would just let it pass except I am just too sensitive when it comes to technician bashing, ohh there I go again, snicker , snicker, aligning with a string (I'm dying).
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Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician

Last edited by stevebfl; 08-26-2002 at 01:05 PM.
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  #5  
Old 08-26-2002, 01:01 PM
1992300e
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Thanks guys

Thanks a lot guys, not surprising who the two quickest responses came from.

Larry, how to you get the tie rod ends appart that are towards the center of the car? For example the opposite end from the spindle? I hate tie rods and the only thing I've found to work is the dreaded pickle fork. I am really nervous about bending good steering components.

csnow, I've tried a puller and ended up spreading the top of the tie rod end with no success in getting the joint appart. Those things get so wedged in, it' tough.

I am glad to be doing my own front end work though. Used to be a big mystery. Not anymore.

Thanks again guys,
Joel

Would much rather be in my gararge right now than work.
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  #6  
Old 08-26-2002, 01:21 PM
1992300e
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stevebfl

Hey Steve,

I hope I have not bashed any techs unintentionaly. I have nothing but respect for the techs (actually envy, those guys, for the most part, really know their stuff), and I am very appreciative of the help they have provided me throught this site.

I like to work on my cars and get a lot of satisfaction from fixing stuff.

I'll say the same thing I've said a bunch of times. I am very appreciative of the techs who spend their valuable time on this site.

Joel
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  #7  
Old 08-26-2002, 02:30 PM
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Can I lend a little support to the "big hammer brigade". Yes, guilty, I always part ball joints with a hammer. However, I use two and hold the bigger one against the opposite side of the joint to the one I hit to act as an inertia member. Hit it hard and you only need to hit it once.
If the joint can be pre-tensioned with a puller the hammer is that much more effective.

Last edited by Alan Robertson; 08-26-2002 at 02:39 PM.
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  #8  
Old 08-26-2002, 02:36 PM
LarryBible
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I don't think Steve was seeing any of your posts as tech bashing, he may have misinterpreted one of mine as such, however.

I posted somewhere recently that Steve could probably do a better alignment job with a piece of string, than some of the chain store guys could accomplish using the fanciest alignment equipment ever built.

My point was not so much tech bashing, but I was trying to point out that there are some of the chain store guys that are doing well to get the toe set correctly. Unfortunately, I think that there are too many that only set the toe and ignore everything else. Incorrect toe is the most common tire wear culprit, so they just take their chances on the rest of it.

I meant no disrespect toward Steve, I actually meant it as a compliment. I have read Steves fabulous posts for over two years now, and have read his background. He is the scientist that many techs wish they could be.

It's what you understand that counts, and he understands.

Have a great day,
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  #9  
Old 08-26-2002, 04:06 PM
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"I understand the premise of an allignment and look forward to doing my own, don't trust anyone. "

I told you I could be sensitive, the last three words set me off. just thought I'd poke some fun at the string idea. I'm a little like the reformed smoker, ever so sensitive to a little smoke.
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Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
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33 years MB technician
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  #10  
Old 08-26-2002, 04:52 PM
1992300e
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Good point Steve

I have not been on the other side of the fence with regards to your profession (haven't walked in your shoes). I wasn't even aware when I wrote the statement.

I guess I've just been burned a few times and can not help feeling that way. I have tried to be loyal to a few local guys (paid top dollar) and each time I've gotten the short end of the stick primarily due to ignorance on my part.

I think trust is the issue with me, the local techs I've tried in the past have made inaccurate representations of their knowledge, skills, and abilities. With my problems either not being resolved or my overpaying (multiple fold). As a result, I end up doing the work myself (don't get me wrong, I enjoy working on my cars). And unsure why, but the dealerships don't seem to want to even work with me, I go for parts and am stared at for 10 minutes before my presence is even acknowldged and trying to strike up an intelligent conversation with those guys is like farting in church. Maybe it's my plad shirt and greesy jeans not sure but what ever the reason I get no satisfaction with the dealer, and I consider myself an easy customer. Never once have I questioned a techs hours (to the tech at least).

Finally, as this is my first Mercedes Benz, I am worried about finding a mechanic skilled with my vehicle and in possession of the tools necessary to repair my car. Actually the first "Merc familiar" mechanic I went to was refered to me by someone on this site. I do not know if he has the equipment to perform the allighment, if he does, he'd be the first place I go after I get the rough allignment done. Need to call him. And, once my front end work is done, I am going to him for help with my AC. I think I am way over my head with the AC.

In closing, the offense was unintentional (thanks Larry for trying to fall on the sword) and I clearly understand, based on your hard earned credentials and experience, people like yourself are why people like myself get value from this site.

Respectfully,
Joel
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  #11  
Old 08-26-2002, 05:17 PM
LarryBible
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I think you and I are not the only ones who frequent this site that wish we lived in Steve's part of Florida.

Have a great day,
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  #12  
Old 08-26-2002, 05:22 PM
1992300e
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Yup

Yup,
Joel
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  #13  
Old 08-26-2002, 06:22 PM
moedip
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Can't resist - Hey Steve - don't worry - they were just stringing you a line!!
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  #14  
Old 08-26-2002, 08:23 PM
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Just my two cents.I bought my mb to work on it my self and because of this site.But there comes a time when some repairs should be left to the experts.I am very fortunate to live 10 miles from BENZMACS shop who just did a 4 wheel alignment for 82.00 useing his new HUNTER machine.Money well spent.
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  #15  
Old 08-26-2002, 10:27 PM
R Easley
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420 benz wrote:

Quote:
But there comes a time when some repairs should be left
to the experts.
I completely agree.

Many of us on these various forums thoroughly enjoy the satisfaction gained from doing DIY work on our own vehicles. But we should correspondingly gain satisfaction from knowing that sometimes, we need a professional, with proper tools, to do the job right.

I could probably compute an analysis-of-variance with an abacus if pressed instead of my computer, but why would I want to do that? Similarly, I have arguably purchased the best-engineered car in the world, so why wouldn't I want corresponding service/measurement quality?

Most if not all contemporary MB alignments are an iterative process -- meaning that each adjustment can -- and usually does -- affect the readings of another desired parameter which requires repeated adjustments of the variables. Even assuming that I could gauge accurate readings with an abacus-like device, I certainly wouldn't want to do it.

Does the above imply that a professional that is not experienced in MBs shouldn't do alignments? Not at all. There is no mystery in MB alignments when one is aware that:

1) there is a purpose for spreading the front wheels when checking measurements on MBs -- even though a tech may have never even heard of a spreader bar

2) due to the design of the steering/suspension system on most contemporary MBs, alignment adjustments are an iterative process

3) some well-known aftermarket specifications are, at times, flat-out wrong. Consequently, the tech should either have access to MB specs or you should provide them to the non-MB tech from your own MB technical data.

The above assumes that one should have a tech that is receptive (i.e., not defensive) about an enthusiast wanting to work with them to better care for their car. This relationship is particularly important in smaller communities where an MB specialist may be a great distance from that community.

I was in the automotive industry in a past life and, too many times, technicians automatically assume that a DIYer is there to try to extract as much info as possible from the tech as cheaply as possible. Of course, that is sometimes true (doesn't make it right, though), but astute techs should realize that DIYers can be cultivated to be a powerful word-of-mouth asset for an independent shop. After all, by definition, DIYers are highly motivated about their marque which means that they not only love to talk about the marque but, more importantly, others will seek them out for recommmendations. A short-term-oriented professional will run off a DIYer and maybe send thousands of dollars of referred business to a shop that is willing to assist a DIYer with some expertise from time-to-time.

I know in my little town, I regularly refer lots of business to a tech that I use on occasion and I refer to him because I know -- through experience with him -- that he is meticulous, eager to add to his body of accumulated knowledge, and is open-minded enough to know that others may have information that can help him, too. As a result, he does very good work, he is fair, and I trust him (and trust others with him). Reciprocally, he knows that I don't make recommendations lightly and he knows that my name is on the line if he doesn't treat my friends and acquaintances well on repairs and service . . .

Sorry for the length of this post but something in the thread reminded me that the relationship between shop owners/professionals and DIYers like us needed to be discussed.

There is a powerfully mutually-beneficial exchange here between the two that is, unfortunately, not cultivated as often as it should because many shop owners/professionals have (erroneously and prejudiciously) labeled all DIYers as "moochers" and, correspondingly, many DIYers do not understand how to develop a relationship with their local professional(s).

Richard Easley
Waco, Texas
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