Behind the White Wheel

Behind the White Wheel

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Route to Perfection: Episode 1

The 1970 280sl Pagoda I am writing about in this post belongs to my cousin. It has been "sleeping" since 1998. Few months ago, she decided to restore it and re-use it. A close inspection of the car made me realize the following:
• The engine still turns
• The interior is still in very good condition with the exception of the dashboard wood
• The body contains what looks to be some deep rust spots under the 25 years old dull white paint
• The weather strips are shot
• The tires are extremely dry

After pulling the car out of the garage, and turning the engine manually to get some oil pressure, I poured gas into the tank and tried to start it. I had to crank the engine a lot only to get some brief and non-continuous firing.

Obviously, the Pagoda needed a specialist's intervention. Few days later, I transported the car to Bechara Ghousoub's repair shop. Bechara is a mechanic with more than 40 years of experience in Mercedes-Benz cars.

Bechara started by examining the fuel tank. Indeed, it seemed full of old fuel and blocked by rust. The cleaning process was long and painful since two helpers had to fill it with a cleaning product, sway it then let the liquid out. They repeated this process around 10 times until no more rust was coming out!

Once done, Bechara re-installed the tank with an additional fuel filter before the fuel pump intake in order to collect any remaining residues. Once re-installed, we poured some gas and tried to start the engine. Two or three cranks were enough to let it start after almost 15 years of "sleep". The engine ran smoothly with absolutely no smoke.

Now that the engine was running, we started doing the usual maintenance work such as changing the engine's oil and filter, brake pads and seals, gearbox oil, thermostat and coolant. We will install four used tires in good condition and grease the suspension.

Once completed, and the car running flawlessly, my cousin will decide on the right time to paint it and change all the weather strips! Definitely, this is an amazing experience with a unique car! Stay tuned as the journey to reaching perfection has just started…