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Old 07-30-2003, 01:17 PM
Registered User
Join Date: May 2003
Location: San Diego county
Posts: 64
380SEL replace 6 bent valves or used head?

Hello again.

Well, I finally got around to getting the driver's side head off my problem child/never should have paid what I did 83' 380SEL. This was a car that didn't run, then I found the cam was broken, etc.

Now I have the head on the bench and I can see right off that 6 of the 8 valves are bent. 2 intake valves look ok. I have a conventional, bench use type spring compressor and can take the head apart, but since I don't have a permanent work area I have not done so. I haven't called the local guy I've been using for MB parts yet, but researching online, I see intake valve prices from $12.50-$21.00, and exhaust from $29 to $39. In addition, I'd also need stem seals, and maybe guide work. On top of that I need a cam and probably a sprocket.

some quick addition gives me a best case scenario for (only) parts for the one head:

$12.50 x 2 intake
$29.00 x 4 exhaust
$19 valve seals for one head
$150 used cam w sprocket
$4 ea? used rockers
$342 before machine work

Now, this engine has obviously been worked on before. It has the double chain (which I plan on replacing). The owners manual has a notation about a timing chain mod at 80k and it's at 180k now. The upper guides on the drivers side are not worn and are not dark, but not brand new. Also, there are heli-coil inserts in the threads for the head bolts, which is a good thing. I plan on replacing the timing chain and the tensioner. I'd rather not take the timing cover off if I don't have to. I also would prefer not to take the passenger side head off. Because I've never driven this car before, or even heard it run, I just want to get it running and smogged. I can do that and a year from now I have to do both sides or even swap an engine, then I will worry about that then.

Therefore I ask. What about buying a used head complete and putting it on? I called Silver Star Recycling, and they will sell me a used head complete, for $225. They sell heads as "rebuildable cores", because they pull them from engines with bottom end problems, and they don't have any info as to how many miles are on the engine before they pulled the head off. I'd rather find a car that was running and the car was rear-ended or something, and get the head but unless I want to wait until a pull your own type yard has one, then I have to take what I can get. Has anyone bought a head like this, sight unseen from this yard and just used it as is? This yard is 500 + miles away so I'd be paying shipping too.

A local yard's web site shows them having a head for $350, but it doesn't say if it is complete. That yard wants $150 for just a cam.

Another Mercedes Yard I have heard good things about is Potomac, and I think someone from there even frequents this site. I haven't called them yet.

Also, if I was to swap parts around in any head, I'd need to buy the tool for measuring the hydraulic compensator preload. If I was to install a head complete, I'd be able to bypass that. I found the tool for $50 or so online. Should I buy it anyway?
As it is I need to buy the U shaped allen tool for torquing the head bolts with the cam in place.

If decide to fix my old head, and unless I just want to try slapping valves in my head and lapping myself, I'm going to need a machine shop that knows Mercedes heads. Does anyone know of a good one in the San Diego area?

I know I've asked a lot here, but I learn with every post I read and every site I find, so any input would be good. Just don't tell me to scrap the car.. haha.. I'm stubborn.


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