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  #1  
Old 08-12-2017, 10:25 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Orinda, CA (SF Bay Area)
Posts: 43
San Francisco -> Chicago -> San Francisco in my 280ce

Please don't call me crazy, because it's already been well-established. I'm planning to drive my '78 280ce, acquired in April, from San Francisco to Chicago and back, just to pick up a black leather interior and euro bumpers that are located there. Yes, I'm aware I could ship this stuff, but that to me, is not in the spirit of a vintage car. I can't fully call a vintage car my own until we share some crazy adventure together. This car would actually be the newest vehicle I have taken on such a trip, having driven a rattle-trap '73 VW Thing on a 17,500 mile, 12-month perimeter trip of the USA in 1999, then from Boston to San Francisco in another '73 VW Thing, and in 2012, a trip to bring my '72 Porsche 914 from Cape Cod to San Francisco, via Montreal. Plus, many 2000+ mile out & back journeys in these and other old cars.

As some of you may already know, the car has an indicated 169k on the clock, but is higher because the speedometer hasn't worked for a decade or longer.


Since taking ownership, I have done the following:

New Battery / cleaned contact points for ground and alternator
New OEM Fuel Injectors / seals
Vacuum line and fitting leak repairs
New braking system (calipers, flex hoses, pads, bearings)
New tie rods and center link / damper.
New exhaust system (CC-back)
New transmission mounts
Pulled transmission, replaced front pump and all seals / filter
New rear main seal (to address seepage, while transmission was out)
New tires, including spare


Next on the 'pre-flight' list:
Oil pan seal
Valve adjustment and new valve cover seals
New cold-start valve gasket
New accumulator (if previous fix doesn't address hot-start)
Replace fuel filter and screen along with accumulator, if necessary
Address low idle while hot while A/C is on (thanks all, for your comments on that issue)
Replace water pump, thermostat, and hoses - full system flush (pre-emptive)
Re-charge A/C (car has updated system, it just sat for a long time and the A/C is weak)
Install H4 lights

Without going nuts, can anyone think of any "must-check" items? The car makes great compression on all six cylinders, and it should be noted the engine was replaced by the previous owner with an 80k mile mill in 2009 (probably less than 20k miles since then). I have not done a leak-down test. Blows / consumes no oil, cold or hot, and there is no evidence of coolant in the oil (using a visual and smell test of the oil filler cap).

Also, is there a "breakdown list" within the community? I know we had one for the VW Thing community, and also for the 914.

We will be traveling from San Francisco to Chicago via I-80, mostly, and are frugal and not fussy in terms of lodging. We're also big fans of adventure, so breaking down won't be the end of the world -- I'll just ship the car back and rent something for the rest of the trip, if need be. Total miles should be about 4500, with a target of 7 days on the road.

Again, not looking for reasons not to do this trip, just hoping for any sage advice on must-address pre-flight items, from your personal experiences. I've never taken a water-cooled car on such a journey!

Thanks in advance,
-greg in Orinda, CA-
Attached Thumbnails
San Francisco -> Chicago -> San Francisco in my 280ce-img_2001.jpg  
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Filmmaker, Dad, Citizen of the World in the San Francisco Bay Area
===current stable===
'78 280CE (acquired April 2017)
'16 Honda Odyssey (kid transporter / adventure wagon)
'16 Chevy Volt (commuter car)
===past notable stable===
'73 VW Thing "Clem"
'73 VW Thing "Astro"
'72 Porsche 914
'68 VW Squareback
'41 Oldsmobile Model 78
'6? Autodynamics Deserter
'05 Jaguar S-Type
'08 Honda Element 4WD EX

Last edited by Ten13; 08-12-2017 at 12:26 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-12-2017, 12:17 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Carolina
Posts: 1,214
Bon Voyage. I'm have confidence that the car will make it. Just be careful out there. Something relatively minor like a side swipe type accident could spell total loss to a rare beast as the coupe w123.
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  #3  
Old 08-12-2017, 12:23 PM
JMela's Avatar
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I'd take care of that valve adjustment and fuel filter replacement beforehand.
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  #4  
Old 08-12-2017, 12:25 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Orinda, CA (SF Bay Area)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMela View Post
I'd take care of that valve adjustment and fuel filter replacement beforehand.
Right - that's what I intend to do, before the trip... Was looking for other things to include in that pre-flight checklist... Sorry if that wasn't clear.
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Filmmaker, Dad, Citizen of the World in the San Francisco Bay Area
===current stable===
'78 280CE (acquired April 2017)
'16 Honda Odyssey (kid transporter / adventure wagon)
'16 Chevy Volt (commuter car)
===past notable stable===
'73 VW Thing "Clem"
'73 VW Thing "Astro"
'72 Porsche 914
'68 VW Squareback
'41 Oldsmobile Model 78
'6? Autodynamics Deserter
'05 Jaguar S-Type
'08 Honda Element 4WD EX
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  #5  
Old 08-12-2017, 12:31 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 43
Smile

Sounds like this sort of adventure is squarely in your wheelhouse. Cross-country in a VW Thing.....gutsy! Though this is a relatively short trip in terms of days, consider giving your radiator system a check-up before you set out. Have a great journey and let us know how it turns out.

Bon voyage!
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  #6  
Old 08-12-2017, 02:45 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Orinda, CA (SF Bay Area)
Posts: 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by karshack View Post
Sounds like this sort of adventure is squarely in your wheelhouse. Cross-country in a VW Thing.....gutsy! Though this is a relatively short trip in terms of days, consider giving your radiator system a check-up before you set out. Have a great journey and let us know how it turns out.

Bon voyage!
Two X-Country Thing journeys, in fact... Well, three if you consider the out & back of the first trip...

Anyhow, the car has a new radiator, replaced by the previous owner in 2015, if the tag is correct. Because I have no other records of any work done to the cooling system, I'm planning to refresh everything except for the radiator - plumbing, pump and thermostat, along with the hoses that feed the heater core, as they and their clamps are looking a bit tired.

I will be recording the entire thing from a hood-mounted go-pro, as I did my 914 trip in 2011...

here's a single day of that trip: Salt Lake City to Truckee, CA:
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Filmmaker, Dad, Citizen of the World in the San Francisco Bay Area
===current stable===
'78 280CE (acquired April 2017)
'16 Honda Odyssey (kid transporter / adventure wagon)
'16 Chevy Volt (commuter car)
===past notable stable===
'73 VW Thing "Clem"
'73 VW Thing "Astro"
'72 Porsche 914
'68 VW Squareback
'41 Oldsmobile Model 78
'6? Autodynamics Deserter
'05 Jaguar S-Type
'08 Honda Element 4WD EX
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  #7  
Old 08-14-2017, 03:19 PM
280EZRider's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Medford, OR
Posts: 1,379
A highway trip like this should be the best thing for your 280CE. I donīt see any mention of flex discs. These should at least be carefully checked before leaving. Happy trails
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  #8  
Old 08-14-2017, 03:21 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Orinda, CA (SF Bay Area)
Posts: 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by 280EZRider View Post
A highway trip like this should be the best thing for your 280CE. I donīt see any mention of flex discs. These should at least be carefully checked before leaving. Happy trails
Hi there, thanks for the reminder on the flex discs... I will give them a thorough going-over, for sure...
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Filmmaker, Dad, Citizen of the World in the San Francisco Bay Area
===current stable===
'78 280CE (acquired April 2017)
'16 Honda Odyssey (kid transporter / adventure wagon)
'16 Chevy Volt (commuter car)
===past notable stable===
'73 VW Thing "Clem"
'73 VW Thing "Astro"
'72 Porsche 914
'68 VW Squareback
'41 Oldsmobile Model 78
'6? Autodynamics Deserter
'05 Jaguar S-Type
'08 Honda Element 4WD EX
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  #9  
Old 08-17-2017, 03:19 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 6
Well, that sounds fun. Thanks for breaking down and sharing your trip.
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  #10  
Old 09-02-2017, 01:22 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 5
Have a great trip, I already jealous
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  #11  
Old 09-03-2017, 02:43 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Orinda, CA (SF Bay Area)
Posts: 43
A few updates on the car, as we get ready for the trip, which starts on / around Sept 23...

The flex discs appear to be quite new, so I'm going to leave them be for this trip. No visible cracking or fatigue, and the bolts & nuts don't have much in the way of corrosion or grime on them.

I did discover the differential mount is shot, so the replacement is going in today.
I'll also replace the differential fluid (with redline).

I need to drive it around for a few more days to drain most of the fuel out of the tank before replacing the tank strainer, filter and accumulator (the replacement of the cold start valve gasket did not cure the hot-start issues).

Next weekend: valve clearance check / adjustment & new gaskets, and spark plugs.

The transmission removal and replacement of pump seal, pan seal, filter, speedometer drive seal and shift selector input seal were successful, and we're now leak-free! Inspection revealed that the rear main seal was fully in-tact and leak free, thankfully. The oil leak appeared to be coming from the oil pan gasket, which has also been replaced.

Primary headlights have been upgraded to Hella H4's & the steering dampener is new - which brought a more dramatic improvement in steering feel than anticipated.

There is an annoying sound -- kind of a tick / tink -- that can only be heard while driving over small bumps and if there is vegetation or a fence along the side of the road, to reflect the sound back. It's definitely a rattle of some sort, but I can't source it. The heat shields seem to be tight, and it's only when going over tiny bumps / cracks in the pavement... Thoughts?

Otherwise, I think she's as ready as she can be!
__________________
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Filmmaker, Dad, Citizen of the World in the San Francisco Bay Area
===current stable===
'78 280CE (acquired April 2017)
'16 Honda Odyssey (kid transporter / adventure wagon)
'16 Chevy Volt (commuter car)
===past notable stable===
'73 VW Thing "Clem"
'73 VW Thing "Astro"
'72 Porsche 914
'68 VW Squareback
'41 Oldsmobile Model 78
'6? Autodynamics Deserter
'05 Jaguar S-Type
'08 Honda Element 4WD EX
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  #12  
Old 09-18-2017, 05:41 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Orinda, CA (SF Bay Area)
Posts: 43
OK, one last pre-flight update!

The valve adjustment operation went well. I discovered all valves had some clearance (cold), but were all inconsistent. They adjusted as hoped and there were no issues found. Replaced spark plugs, fuel accumulator, strainer, filter, and all hoses at the rear of car. The old accumulator was full of fuel on the vapor recovery side, and I can't believe how well the car starts now, hot or cold. Two cranks and off she goes.

The low idle seemed to be remedied by the above repairs.

New Bilstein HD shocks have been installed (that was easy!), and rear differential mount replaced.

Coolant temperature for my routine test-drive route of mixed back roads, freeway, hills and stop & go are now also lower, so I'm happy about that.

I've run a full tank of fuel through it these past four days, and am confident the car is ready for its 4600 mile journey from SF to Chicago and back!

Will keep you posted!
-greg
__________________
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Filmmaker, Dad, Citizen of the World in the San Francisco Bay Area
===current stable===
'78 280CE (acquired April 2017)
'16 Honda Odyssey (kid transporter / adventure wagon)
'16 Chevy Volt (commuter car)
===past notable stable===
'73 VW Thing "Clem"
'73 VW Thing "Astro"
'72 Porsche 914
'68 VW Squareback
'41 Oldsmobile Model 78
'6? Autodynamics Deserter
'05 Jaguar S-Type
'08 Honda Element 4WD EX
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  #13  
Old 09-18-2017, 07:13 PM
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Location: WA State
Posts: 57
Sounds like fun! Good luck on your trip.
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  #14  
Old 09-20-2017, 09:28 PM
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Make sure you get a deep dish pie while in Chi-town
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  #15  
Old Yesterday, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ten13 View Post
There is an annoying sound -- kind of a tick / tink -- that can only be heard while driving over small bumps and if there is vegetation or a fence along the side of the road, to reflect the sound back. It's definitely a rattle of some sort, but I can't source it. The heat shields seem to be tight, and it's only when going over tiny bumps / cracks in the pavement...
Sounds like it could be thrust bearings in the front suspension. I replaced mine and it made a great difference. Godspeed.
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