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Old 04-08-2004, 08:05 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 14
Angry repair time frustration

I take my 1965 220sb to an mechanic who exclusively works on Mercedes. I accept that it's always going to be costly, but my biggest frustration is waiting in line for months to get the car into the shop, and on top of that, ALWAYS waiting over a month to get the car back. Is this because the net profit of working on a car like that is not very rewarding.. due to the amount of time it takes to diagnose, find parts, and repair the problem? I think the mechanic prefers to have only 2 vintages in the shop at one time. Is it normal for me to wait 3 weeks without any news about the diagnosis or timeline for my repair? I love everything about this mechanic, except maybe for communication. My car is in the shop specifically for power steering gearbox repair (resealing) and poor fuel delivery/carb related problems. Thanks

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Old 04-08-2004, 09:13 PM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Toronto
Posts: 277
I think you should look for a new shop. I can always get my car in the day I call. I don't think it has ever taken more than 3 days to get it back. And that was when I needed a new rad and some bodywork after an animal collision. The amount you might save by taking it to him is more than offset by the aggravation of not having your car. You are still paying insurance for this downtime too. 2 or 3 weeks to just look at it is inexcusable. Plain and simple.
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Old 04-09-2004, 01:16 AM
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Location: oregon
Posts: 2,013
Find another shop! any shop that is willing to work on vintage MB's should have multitude of sources for parts,and a good mechanic should be able to diagnose most problems quickly or he's in the wrong business.

he probably takes on too much work and puts you on hold because you are easy on him..........

William Rogers............
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Old 04-09-2004, 06:44 AM
engatwork's Avatar
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Soperton, Ga. USA
Posts: 12,982
biggest frustration
I can help you eliminate this continuing frustration - sell it to me.
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Old 04-09-2004, 08:15 AM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tucker, Ga USA
Posts: 12,153
When you have a 40 year old anything it will take time getting ANYONE wanting to service OR repair that OR get parts for it!!

I have worked on MB's since 1968 & I know that very few MB techs today WANT to see a car that was made before they were born!
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Last edited by mbdoc; 04-09-2004 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 04-09-2004, 12:55 PM
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Location: Seattle, Wa.
Posts: 128

I am afraid to say that all parts are NOT so easy to find, I recently was blessed with a 1964 220SB with a burnt valve.... The head came off and although the valves, guides and seals were only two days wait, the original seals are poor at best and we decided to use modern seals. This required the machinist to modify the valve guides, then the new seals hung on the inner springs, we found that 280SL springs would clear but hung on the outer springs, we dug through a box of assorted mercedes springs and found a set that would clear the inner springs and still fit the retainers and had the same spring pressure.

All this took weeks as a working shop has in-and-out work that pays the bills, the machinist has the same issue and I waited on him for about a month to custom make the guides - work he could do again in an afternoon but there are no specs to go by when fitting 1990 stem seals to 1964 guides.

The long and short of it is that working on vintage cars is not "easy" and parts are not "easy", although waiting months to get it in or diagnosed is simply bad business, waiting on parts or machine work is to be expected and many of the parts seem to be made of "Unobtainium". We recently spent weeks looking for a reliable carb specialist to rebuild a set of 1974 BMW 3.0CS Zenith carbs and never did find anyone as these carbs were junk when new, we fitted a set of Webers and carefully packed the original junk in a box in the trunk for the day when they have enough value as originals to be completely reworked and have parts custom made for them.

If you drive an antique you can expect to wait for things to get done - it's just how it is unless you want to learn to do it yourself. Personally I drive a 1968 BMW R60/2 in the summer and spend winters sourcing parts and solving problems. My 1975 450SLC rally car has the worlds worse fuel injection and requires constant work, my 1974 BMW 2002 has constant carb tuning to be done and my 1972 911 Targa has dual triple bore webers....More work, but as the Zen monks say "the art is in the whole process, not the result" Learn to do a lot of the work yourself and enjoy it, hell I even enjoy valve adjustments and washing my cars, it can be a kind of meditation.

Good luck and have patience....And have a talk with your mechanic and explain your concerns nicely, if you keep the car you are going to have a long relationship with him.

1971 Porsche 911 Targa RSR rep.
1968 BMW R60/2
1981 BMW R80GS-PD, dual plugs, 1000cc jugs, 10 gal "Gaston" tank.
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Old 04-09-2004, 01:34 PM
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That's why Jay Leno has a warehouse with a full-time staff and a complete machine shop at his disposal...try getting his collection of vintage iron maintained at the local city garage!
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Old 04-09-2004, 06:49 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 14
Thumbs up patience with repair time

When I bought this car I knew I was getting into frequent and costly repairs. I guess I did'nt realize that most expert technicians are'nt very enthusiastic about dealing with the oldies. I definitely want to gain more confidence and knowledge with the do-it-yourself stuff, but right know I'm pretty novice.
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Old 04-09-2004, 08:18 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Matthews, NC
Posts: 1,356
I cgoodwin is 100% correct. When I start my day, I diagnose first, order parts, and then do the repairs. I must confess, some times I line the cars up with the most likely chance of geting repaired on the same day. 20+ year old cars sometimes slip to the bottom of the list. I will still do the diagnosis on the day promised, or at lease with in 2 days, but it will be at the end of the day after the "cash flow cars" are completed. Most of my customers know this and acept it. If they can't acept it, I recommend they find someone else to do the repairs. Nothing will bring a "one man shop" to a standstill quicker than a car that you can't get parts for, or the information needed to fix it quickly is not available without some diging.
Try to schedule a day with even 1 old car and several "cash flow cars" and then promise to get the 1 old car taken care of as schedueled.
Sorry, bring it and leave it, and I will call you when it is ready.

84 500 SEL (307,xxx miles)
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