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Old 07-01-2004, 10:21 AM
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Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Miami, FL
Posts: 645
300TD gets new front shocks

I changed the shocks on my 300TD wagon yesterday and here are some pointers to anyone doing the same.

It's not a really hard job, and I calculate that I cut about $200 off the amount I would have had to spend had I taken it to a shop and paid labor and a markup on the new shocks.

Adsit has a sale on Bilstein comfort shocks: these are guaranteed for life, but I suspect you'll need the receipt and the yellow Pach und Prufschein slip with the numbers on it that Bilstein packs in each box. If you lost it, my numbers were 8417 and 9850.

Tools: one 17mm boxend wrench and another 17mm: there are two bolts in the tower under the hood, one to hold it one to lock it, and a 5mm something (I used a small crescent wrench) to prevent the small rectangular thingie in the center of the shock from turning. For the two bolts at the botton of each shock, you will need a 10mm TWELVE POINT socket for the outside bolt or a 10 mm box wrench, and for the inside bolt it looks like only a 12 point, narrow 10mm wrench will do: none of my fine Japanese, Korean or Chinese wrenches were narrow enough to fit this 12 point bolt and I had to rummage through my extensive pile of yardsale tools which range from the entire set of Pakistani sockets I bought for emergencies in my second car (I have not maneaged to break my first one yet) to a couple of *Snapon* wrenches that I bought in a box of other crap from the sister of a mechanic's widow for $5.00.
Finally I found my entirely elegant Matco USA WCL 10m2 10mm combination wrench which fit just fine and allowed me to turn these tricky bolts about 1/4 in at a time, a lying on my back on my cement patio in the 90 degree F Florida sun.

I used a jackstand and an old Ford jack from a junkyard and a 2 ton bottle jack, which I needed to push the shock up high enough to get the bolt on.

The HD Bilsteins for my 124 did not come with the installation kit, but these did, despite being cheaper. I paid $75 each for the 123 shocks (with the kit) and $98 each for the 124 shocks (The kit was $12 extra, I recall).

The installation kit consists of four new 10mm 12 point bolts and 2 nuts, 4 huge washers, a plastic stop tube about 4 in long, four rubber doughnuts about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 2 plastic covers for both shocks. The old covers were yellow and labeled with the Mercedes star and a part number beginining, somewhat curiously with 126 rather than 123.

In my opinon, you need the kit, because the rubber doughnuts were flattened after maybe 17 years and the plastic stop tube (solid heavy foam yellowish plastic with a hole in the center for the shock central steel tube) will be eroded and generally shot.

I strongly suspect that should you take your car to the shop and you buy the shocks without the kit, the old parts, including the eroded stop tube, would be used. I base this opinion on the word of the folks at Finish Line where I bought the kit, that almost no one ever bought the kit with the shocks for the 124, which are sold kitless.

I do not know whether Boge shocks come with or without a kit. Bilsteins are made by Krupp Industries, who supplied Der Fuhrer in years gone by, but the same family also has one kickass art museum in Madrid, the Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza at Paseo del Prado, 8. It is second only to El Prado for paintings and sculpture. (End of anuncio comercial para los amigos del arte)

Each shock comes with an installation guide that shows the order to put these parts in. I was tempted to use the old covers because they were in fine shape, but decided to use the covers from the new package.

The car handles a bit better and rides about an inch higher in the front.

The old shocks, which might be original, as they have the MB star and all, were not shot completely. As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure that they are harder to compress than a *new* set of Sears shocks I bought for my POS 1982 Buick Regal, which committed suicide with a nasty dashboard fire.

I know people will say that HD or not, the shocks should not raise the front of the car, but they did on my 124, which no longer can scrape its expensive front spoiler on parking lot curbstops, and on the wagon as well. It looks like I could put 16" wheels on the wagon with no problems whatever. I don't think I will, though, because the 14" tires are cheaper and probably ride smoother.

So I now have about 7" ground clearance. If I lose another 60 lbs., I will be able to pop the drainplug without the ramps.

I can't get the 124 up on my old ramps: the spoiler gets in the way and I am forced to use a jack.

The most important thing is that 12 point thin walled box wrench: I have 7 10mm wrenches, including official BMW and VW wrenches and not one fits the inner bolt because of the limited clearance. I would not wish any of you fine colleagues to get so nearly done some Sunday in a blue-law town (where one dare not profane the Sabbath by buying a wrench) and have to give up or hitch a ride to work on Monday for want of this rather special wrench.

Semibodacious Transmogrifications a Specialty

1990 300D 2.5 Turbo sedan 171K (Rudolf)
1985 300D Turbo TD Wagon 219K (Remuda)

"Time flies like and arrow, yet fruit flies like a banana"
---Marx (Groucho)
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