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Soft top rear center latch problem -- any advice?

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FILMGUY's picture
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Hi:

I have a new (to me) 1973 450SL. I doubt the hardtop has been off in the last 20 years, but given that I live in Southern California (and the AC isn't working) top down driving is the only way to go. Anyway, when I went to take the hardtop off it stuck for a while in the center rear but with a bunch of jiggling of the controls and the help of a friend eventually came free. All was fine until I put the softtop up and then wanted to take it back down. I can't for the life of me get it free in the back. I have tried to follow the instructions: control lever in position B (about 10 oclock on my car
), and safety latch in position E (about 6 o'clock), but it doesn't even pop out of the first latch until I push the lever as far as it will got o position C. Then it pops up about 3/4 of an inch but is firmlly locked at that point...I played with jiggling the levers (broke the control handle knob off!) to know avail...the safety catch spins freely, never feels any different but I must be up against the secondary latch...Any advice? I'm frustrated.

Filmguy

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JPMose's picture
Atlanta, GA
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1970 280SE Cabriolet
1968 250SL
Re: Soft top rear center latch problem -- any advice?

I wish I had the answer for you but I don't! The handle shouldn't be too expensive to replace. I would also post your question on the following site (it has a lot of activity on the SL forum):

http://www.mercedesshop.com/

Best of luck!

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Re: Soft top rear center latch problem -- any advice?

FILMGUY;138418 wrote:
Any advice? I'm frustrated.

I wish I'd seen this earlier - I drove through Santa Barbara today and I could have shown you how to get it loose. I had the same problem with my 75 when I first bought it.

You need a wire coat hanger, a pair of cutting dykes, a pair of pliers and patience. Cut the hanger so you've got a fairly long handle and bend the end of it so you've got about 1.5" to go down into the center pin hole. The pin is held by a catch that comes in from the passenger side of the car and rests in a notch. Look at your hard top center pin, it's the same setup for your soft top. You need to work the hanger around so you can catch that latch and pull it to the passenger side of the car. Once you've got it released the rear bow of the soft top should pop up. Replace that handle before you close it again. You can buy a new handle from either the MB dealership up there (although they weren't very helpful when I needed 107 parts) or from Performance Products.
http://www.performanceproducts4benz.com

If you need dealer parts and they're giving you a hassle up there, come down to Silver Star Mercedes in Thousand Oaks. They're great, and they give a discount if you're an MBCA member. They also set me up an account and gave me a separate discount structure after I'd been buying parts there a while. I didn't even have to ask, they just did it.

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theonlybiker11's picture
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Re: Soft top rear center latch problem -- any advice?

i have the same problem, although mine has a missing set screw.
it holds the cable adjustment. i.e. if the cable is loose it won't pull the latch
so, I have to get the set screw.
matter of fact. the whole assembly is worn and slightly rusted .
all day affair. ...
btw, the set screw is (if I remember correctly) at the end of the assembly. not too far from the actual latch/opening.

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Werner W's picture
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Re: Soft top rear center latch problem -- any advice?

I had the same problem and this is what I did to get it off. Carefully use something to pry under and lift up under the back and either side of the hard top so as to give you a half inch or more clearance to get at the center latch post. The center post is screwed into the bottom of the hard top. Use a small and thin pointed vice grip to stick under the hard top and grab the center latch post. Be sure to rest the vise grip on a rag so you don't scratch the pained surface of the back of the car. Since the post is screwed in upside down turn it clockwise 90 to 180 degrees to disengage the latch.

The cause of the problem of the cable not releasing is likely to be the piece of plastic slipping near the end of the cable which is held in place by a clip. I still have that problem but I just re-clip it in place each time I use it. That seems to work for the next time I need to use the lever.

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Re: Soft top rear center latch problem -- any advice?

Thanks for all the advice, I will try to get to it today and let you know the results.

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halman2228's picture
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Re: Soft top rear center latch problem -- any advice?

Try this:

After loosening the front locks at the windshield (to relieve the tension on the canvas) and you have moved the lever to the release position -

...press lightly down on the rear of the soft top rail at the center to give the two hooks some clearance from each other, then push and/ or pull that bottom rail sideways to free the hook.

One of mine will hang up as in your situation and this does the trick. Its takes a little more muscle and a helper if you try this when removing the hard top though...:D

Regards,
Kevin

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Re: Soft top rear center latch problem -- any advice?

Got it open...Thanks all, once I understood how it works it was possible to get a screwdriver in and disengage the safety latch...turns out that the safety latch cable had broken at the handle (inside though). Haven't fixed that yet but at least I'm Topless...and to my great surprise the replacement handle that I broke is only $12 on line.

Now for my overheating problem...:D

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Re: Soft top rear center latch problem -- any advice?

I have a 1983 380SL. I had the same problem. I was told to bend a small electrical screwdriver at a right angle about 1" from the end and push it into the rear latch hole from the passenger side and gently lever the latch from the notch in the rear pin. It worked. I then drove round to my mechanic with the rear latch loose. He reset the relaese cables for me. Please be gentle and patient with scewdriver it took me about 4-5 times before I caught the latch right to relase it. Good Luck!

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