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W123 fan club

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Grey Ghost's picture
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A forum devoted to the W123 cars is a GREAT idea, Vince. I am 45 years old and have owned many cars over the last 29 years, including three 300TDT wagons. I believe that the W123 series is the quintessential Mercedes, designed and over-engineered before the accountants in Stuttgart (now Detroit) changed the design objective from excellence to profit.

The W123 cars are handsome and distinguised as they were the last chassis line with coachwork featuring REAL chrome (not painted plastique) and designed before the advent of wind-tunnel testing.

I particularly love the turbo-charged diesels. The trick is finding one with a FULL service record and a conscientious owner. I've determined that, ideally, you should buy a diesel from the WIDOW of an engineer who had the car from new and maintained it on schedule (the wife always hated the diesel, and now the car now reminds her of him), for < $4,000.

One thing I've found is that these diesels do cost money to maintain. My current car is a 1985 with 150,000 miles on it. I purchased it from a guy who owned five cars and had run out of garage space. I had been looking for a 1985, which was the last model year for the W123 chassis, and theoretically the most refined 300TDT. Cosmetically, the car was in excellent condition, having been garaged its entire life. Mechanically, the engine didn't smoke on hard uphill acceleration, and the transmission didn't clunk heavily between 1st and 2nd gear (warning signs I had learned to heed from the prior two cars). The owner had thirteen years worth of service records (he was the second owner, and didn't receive records from Mercedes of Greenwich, the dealer who sold him the car). During the 13 years he owned it, he spent more than $20,000 on maintenance with Mercedes of Greenwich! I paid him $6,900 for the car (his asking price, and high, in my opinion) and, within sixty days of owning it, spent $700 on rust removal, $150 to have the a/c system re-charged, $3,250 on maintenance (from an indie German car shop in Mamaroneck, NY), and $750 upgrading the sound system (I recommend the new Becker 4602 unit for this purpose, which can be bought directly from Becker for $450)

The garage want to convert the a/c from R12 to 134, but tells me that's another $500-$750 job. Since the system is still cold from the re-charge, I'm going to put off the a/c upgrade as long as possible.

I'm looking forward to reading the threads in this forum. When I see someone driving a W123 wagon, I always wave as if they're a family member!

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D.L. SWINFORD's picture
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Together Again

Gery Ghost;
Here we are together on the 123 forum.
In reading your cost to own experiences I wonder how so much could have been spent for general maintainance,
My 300dt with 277k miles had it's motor mounts replaced today. The first time.
To convert to R134A cost me $4.95 for oil (pag100), $11.00 for gas and $3.95 for fitting adapters. The labor was $19.99.
I can't understand such an outragous price as you related.
My 123 has required tires, brake pads and rotors, shocks, front suspension parts,i.e tie rod ends, steering stabilizer, and timing chain.
Except for brakes, tires and shocks none of the remainder has been done until 200K miles.
I use an independant technican and trust him to take care of my Benz.
I do the motor oil and filter, transmission oil and filter, brake fluid changing and cooling system and thermostat myself.
I guess I the lucky one.
Don
:p

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Don, nice "chatting" with you again. Some of your posts make me laugh (always a good thing). With regard to the estimated cost of a R134a conversion, my mechanic was factoring in the replacement of some of the existing a/c components...R134a is not just a refrigerant swap with R12, is it?

as far as the cost of regularly-scheduled maintenance is concerned, the prior owner had ALL work performed by MB of Greenwich (that says it all). I'll forward you a spreadsheet I created to summarize the work, if you're curious. Most of the non-scheduled work the dealer performed was in reaction to complaints from the owner. I don't think dealer techs are very handy with the older cars at this point, so there's a lot of time, effort, and parts wasted. Most of the competent older car techs have opened their own shops.

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Easy Conversion

Skip,
I have cronic pain in my legs and it awakened me at this early hour.I don't do this all of the time.
It is strange as my nickname as a youngster was Skip also.
The conversion to R134A ius quite simple.
You have to add a "Pag Oil"; it mixes with the R12 oil.
When charging you reduce the amount of refrigarant by 50%.
This is because the R134A operates at a higher head pressure.
Purge the unit with a recovery unit, evacuate, add new type oil per the instructions for converting, recharge the unit with the reduced amount of R134A.
I believe that's it.
You'll find it cools comfortable enough.
Good Luck.
Don

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Spiderman, if it's good enough for you...

down in the Lone Star state, it sure will be good enough for me up here in New England, where it's only seriously hot for 45 days or so. My mechanic showed me a hose just aft of the radiator (under the alternator, I believe) that was leaking oil. He told me that he MIGHT need to replace some of the components (compressor, the air drier, etc), but they wouldn't know until they got in there...for the past month the cooling has been sufficient with the R12 re-charge I got last month (at a cost of $150), so the leak can't be that bad. I understand the system remains under 100 lbs of pressure even when the system isn't engaged.

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Sounds strange

Grey Ghost, Skip #2 I believe;
The hose that is under the alternator is the high pressure hose; it is the one that usually leaks first.
The hose is a tubing hose combination.
Mine too has leaked but I had the assembly rebuit.
Any hose shop can replace the rubber part at a fraction of the cost of a new one.
Anywhere you see oil leaking gas also leaks.
I don't understand the replacing the compressor if the operating pressures are within spec. the clutch operates and there is no noise coming from it.
I believe you meant the filter/drier, not air drier.
Unless the system has been open to atmosphere or is very old, then why.
Even here in the South the R134A does an excelent job cooling.
Make the conversion and it will pay for itself if you are paying $150.00 to charge with R12.
Don't jump into it; check it out.
Good Luck;
Don

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Skip #1, now that you mention it...

the compressor/clutch IS making quite a bit of racket once it's been on for a while. I don't know whether the compressor or the filter/drier are testing to spec, as I told Doug to hold off on the job once he gave me a rough estimate of the cost.

"Skip#2"

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G.G Skip

Skip I'm sorry to be so late with a reply about the compressor/clutch making a noise after running for a while.
Normally when the clutch is engaged in the lock-up condition you won't hear noise.
At times the noise you hear can be related to a low freon level.
What occurs is when low of freon, the oil is not carried over the top of the evaporator coils when the freon boils and returned to the compressor. The oil is retained in the evaporator coils.
Food for thought!
Don, alias Skip 1, Spiderman:p

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Don, I just had the Freon re-charged, so I hope that's not the issue. The A/C runs nice & cold, but the compressor is quite noisy at times.

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