CL500 W215 Rear end rebuild & renovation

Roadtoad

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Having found myself between jobs as it were I thought I would make best use of my time and the last days of the summer and renovate the rear section of the car. I spent a long time gathering parts like a squirrel on steroids buying parts from all over the world. My favourite source is California where old parts still look like new due them not throwing any of that nasty, wicked, evil road salt down on the roads. My biggest concern was the subframe, tales of seized subframe bolts and having to drill them out made me break out in a cold sweat just thinking about it. I really, really, really didn't fancy laying on my back upside down trying to drill out sheared high tensile bolts. I dont have a ramp or a trolley jack either nor do I have any mates that could give a helping hand so I approached the task with great trepidation.
I realised that even if I managed to get the bolts out my next hurdle would be the shear weight and size of the complete rear axle and moving it around on my gravel drive. I went to bed one night and had a eureka moment and came up with a cunning plan, I wouldn't drop the subframe down but I would raise the car up off of it. To this end I invented a rear axle jig, which I made from a plank of wood and some old caster wheels I had kept for ages thinking they might be of use one day. Some hardboard laid on top of the gravel created a smooth surface for the wheels to roll on and then all I had to do was pull it to one side. I will make more progress reports but here is a picture of the jig in situ....
 
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Roadtoad

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With the subframe removed I could now see how much work I had to do. Notice the crack in the ride height sensor, both sides were like this but it wasn't until I took them off and had a good look at them that I understood why. Each one had seized up on the ball joints so instead of them sending an accurate reading back to the ecu the arm was pushing against the housing and so breaking the side of the casing. Erosion had then got into the cracks so the mounting screws were knackered as well. I broke each sensor off and made good with body filler before repainting and freeing off all the ball joints. The hydraulic pipe at this side was the only one worth saving and looked like it may have been replaced at some stage. Rust had started at all the points where the inner wheel arch liner fastens on. The little black nylon nuts didnt come off too easy but a little heat from a hairdryer makes a big difference
 
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The upper wheel arch has been well protected by its liner. 15 years and not a spot of rust up here
 
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The subframe was put to one side where I could work on it. The nearside bearing was noisy so I decided to replace it. The bearing had other ideas though, after 15 years it decided it wasnt budging so I replaced the whole carrier with another one taken from a low mileage scrapper. The rear bushes showed no signs of wear so I just changed the front two.
 

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I love your innovations, wonderful what laying in bed can come up with :D:D
 
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The propshaft came off easier than I thought, just a case of splitting the exhaust at the mid section, removing the heat shield and releasing the centre section prop support. WIS led me to believe I would have to then undo all the propshaft bolts and drive the sleeves out with a drift but not so. I just took out the three bolts on the diff side and then pushed the prop forward. The three hydraulic lines you can see in the picture are now off, only the middle one which is to the RH strut will be used again
 

C16RKC

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Nice to see the extra lengths you are going to restoring the car - will watch with great interest!
 
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When I first saw this my first thoughts were scrapping time. I was sure that the accumulator would be failing anytime and the pipework up to it looked even worse. Amazingly when I took it off and checked it, it was still functioning but I had already bought a new one and the pipework to go with it.




I say new, it came second hand from California but I was pleased with the condition, it looked like new...
Then came another hurdle when I took the old pipe off and compared the two, everything matched right up to the point the pipe enters the valve block but the for some reason the angle was all wrong, too sharp and pointing in the wrong direction. I contacted the ebay seller to tell them but they just ignored me
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I thought Oh dear and didnt swear or curse just went to bed to think about it. Next day I got my mountain bike out, slung both pipes over my shoulder and peddled off to my local mend-a-hose. At first they said nothing could be done until I suggested that they might be able to use the old valve block entry end of the old pipe which was still in good condition and transplant this onto my gleaming American pipe. Yes they said we could do that. So twenty minutes later I was peddling my bike back home with a correctly angle new pipe, the cost ? £10 A bargain I thought as the new section they fitted on must be worth that.
 

C16RKC

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Wow those parts are in great condition!
 
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Yes Ive seen many good condition parts from California, I mean its the sunny state and they dont use rock salt on the roads in "winter" it may stop you skidding but boy oh boy its a car killer. Just look at the state my diff was in



One problem I had was from these nut brackets which are on the front section of the subframe accessed through the side of the wheel arch. This one is from the passenger side. The bolt was three quarters out when this thing started spinning around. Its a really crap design I think. Its to allow for a certain amount of adjustment on the subframe but I dont like them. In the end I had to break off the plate and then wedge some washers down in the hole to keep it from spinning. I feel like welding them up before I put them back but I think they are made in such a way that you have to slide them all the way in one direction to get them back through the hole in the floor before centering them so I will have to sleep on that one for now
 

Richard Hinds

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Wow, another excellent posting from a courageous and clever poster. I really admire what you've achieved so far, working in what seems to be less than perfect conditions. Do please keep posting with plenty of photos, it enables us to follow what you've been doing, and may inspire more people to renovate a once fine vehicle.
 
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Thanks Richard its true trying to work on your car and rolling around in gravel is no joke. Im on the rebuild now so I just took these two photos showing the underside of the car before I put the subframe back. A pity really because nobody will see all this detail apart from when it goes for MOT ! I repainted the underside with two coats of hammerite silver after scraping all the loose rust off with a 6mm chisel ( an ideal size as it turned out for getting between the floor sections). For some reason Mercedes really skimped on this floor panel, (the one that runs under the fuel tank). Its a very thin piece of ungalvanized steel with the thinnest of paint coverings you get the impression that it was built to fail. The mounting points for the subframe are very substantial fortunately so even though they were well rusty, once I had given them the treatment they are now as good as new.

 

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Wonderful job you are doing there :) sure no one can see it, buy you knowing is a nice feeling.
 

nyx

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i love doing maintenance jobs that cant be seen but give me satisfaction knowing that my car behaves like the maker built it for, like this cl500.
 

om613

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Good work...which should be un-necessary, bleedin' Daimler Chrysler...
 
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Parts of the house are now looking more like a lock up garage on an industrial estate. You may just be able to spot a loaf of bread in its rightful place.

Parts also spilling out into lounge area

Drive shafts have now had their boots removed and been regreased. I will swap them around before assembly to negate any torque wear on the bearings. Reluctors also cleaned up
 
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The subframe bushes really didn't want to come out I ended up taking out the centres and then hacksawing through the metal sides

And the new ones

I replaced the wheel carrier on the passenger side due to a noisy bearing which didn't want to come out. Here is a picture of the low mileage replacement before I worked on it
 
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I replaced the supporting joint bearing, straightened the backing plate, scraped off all loose rust, applied kurust and repainted with black hammerite
 

C16RKC

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Excellent work there my friend!

Loving the parts in the living room - I get nagged if I leave things in the conservatory!
 


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