In late January of 2007 a friend of mine who has the uncanny knack of finding sweet deals on automobiles of every kind, informed me about a 1984 300sd for sale on eBay. I had bought my first Mercedes diesel 7 months earlier, a nice gold 300D turbo with 105,000 miles! So, I looked at the pictures and read about it. It had approximately 225 k miles on it, the exterior looked great, and so began my journey into another Mercedes diesel.
First off, I would have never imagined owning and performing maintenance on a German made Mercedes Benz. Working on automobiles was a negative experience growing up; it was a necessary evil. Thankfully with resources from the internet, like Mercedessource mixed in, with a little passion from a regular guy like myself, I felt more confident to tackle jobs left to certified people. I hear of horror stories when people take their new vehicles to dealerships for fixes and tune ups. The prices are enormous and service sub par; makes the person enslaved to the auto manufacturers. With all the modern computer chip controllers and sensors, one cannot even attempt to change something out.
Well, I had won the listing for $2900.00! Right away I started second guessing myself about the price, travel expenses and most importantly, how I was going to pull this off with my wife. She wasn’t happy, but liked the fact that I could rebuild and run bio or straight veggie oil in these cars.
Remember, this was in the dead cold of winter with freezing temperatures that could cripple any diesel. The funny thing was I caught a shuttle in Columbia, Missouri to get to St. Louis airport. The shuttle had a Mercedes 5 cylinder diesel engine and ran like a charm. I flew to Philadelphia where the dealer picked me up and we drove to the mean streets of the city…not a place you want to break down. I was thinking, now what have I got myself into?
They knew nothing about Mercedes diesels, and I was still green myself. I looked the car over and started it up and the engine almost shook off the mounts at idle, but smoothed out once on the pedal. It needed work, but at least I had heat inside for the trip home… or was I to make it home, at least one of us would. We closed the deal and all I could think of was the tune, da da da da da da, bah bah bah bah, “Rocky Balboa” sets off on his morning run! (Movie was shot in Philadelphia.) So, I drove all night out of PA and made it outside of Indianapolis in frigid temps that made me think I was in the Arctic. Luckily, “Rocky” started the next morning and “rocked” like an earthquake. Made it all the way back home that day, totaling approximately 900 miles driven. It certainly passed the road test!
Now, work done to this beauty:
· Replaced engine mounts
· Replaced front crank shaft seal
· Oil cooler lines
· Glow Plugs
· Rear Shocks
· Bosio Injector nozzles
· Water pump/ short hose
· Radiator and hoses with inline block heater.
· Rebuilt the AC system myself. (Changed it out under the driver instrument panel!)
· Replaced air line connectors, fuses
· New high output alternator
· Ran 50 % Bio-diesel in the summers of 2007and 2008
· Ran straight filtered veggie oil blend in 2009
Things that still need replacing:
· Shut off valve and vacuum diagnosis.
· Front wind shield
· Rebuild the rear CV joint axles
· Interior wooden trim
· Passenger rear window realignment.
· Timing chain
The benefit of owning these beauties is numerous. I now own a total of three under the price of $19,000.00. 1984 300D, 1984 300SD and a like new, 1980 240D with 53K miles! I couldn’t find a decent new vehicle for $20,000.00 and do work on it. Secondly, what satisfaction to know that one can accomplish and rebuild a piece of history. Finally, as a Laboratory Technician and Science loving person, making fuel for these cars has made it all worth the effort to rebuild these diesels. I have learned so much on titration, fuel processors, seed oil comparisons and vehicle performance. Below is a picture of the specific gravity of my methyl ester (bio-diesel) made in a 5-gallon bucket and yes, dumped in the tank to run! Rocky seemed to like the oil from “Hooters” …I wonder why?
In the winter of 2008 I studied the cold flow properties of three sample oils: Peanut, Soy and Canola. I got the peanut from my late brother who used the oil to fry turkeys. Soy came from some local restaurant and the canola which is short for Canada oil (mustard plant variety), I was able to get a few gallons from Taco bell which specifically use Canola for their cooking. If there was ever a time in America to produce its own fuel, CANOLA is the way to go! The canola sample remained thin (low viscosity in below freezing temps) and the peanut and soy thickened up like lard. I also ran moisture analysis from my biodiesel. I use an old piece of lab equipment to dry my fuel in the Blue-M Magna Whirl, and worked great!!!
I hope this is an inspiration to any who reads my small story of hope, tears, fears, failures and success. Rocky is so smooth now and is a joy to drive and I get 25 to 33 mpg. I drove to Topeka KS and back to Columbia Missouri on one tank. I won’t say how much I spent or how many hours I laid underneath, plus all the hours making and testing bio fuel for these cars. It was a learning experience curve that no college could offer!