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 Working on air bellows
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Art Love

Australia
6218 Posts

Posted - 03/09/2010 :  05:54:04  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The new buffers arrived today, so we got on with replacing the front bellows units. Here are the buffers going in. This is a bit of a fiddle because the bottom of the rubber is wider than the top, as are the metal cylinders they go in. Plenty of rubber grease.

















I also replaced the completely destroyed nylon ball joints on the airvalve control rods with some second hand steel ones. I'm waiting on an order of new ones from J.W.Winco Inc in Wisconsin who still supply the original German steel ones. But at least this will let us get the car off the hoist and moveable. The following pictures show the air suspension units going in. As with getting them out, we managed from behind the axle without undoing the tierods. We've used stainless steel screws, washers and nuts on the pistons. I've got new screws coming from Tom, but they are not here yet and I can use them on another car. I overdid the antisieze grease a bit. I'll wipe it off when we do the front sway bar.

























Well, that is pretty much the job done. Hope you all enjoyed it. As I said, I'm doing a series of articles in the Lode Star because Jack English said I should and we should all be supporting Anthony with articles. Not everyone looks at this website, and it gives a printed version with high resolution pictures.
Art
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Art Love

Australia
6218 Posts

Posted - 03/17/2010 :  08:06:10  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Just when you think you are finished, there is always something else. This series covered the W112 and W109 cars. On the 600 forum are some views of the same thing in the 600 which is somewhat different in the detail if the same in principle. It's in my thread on detailed views of the 600.
Art
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FEMA

USA
1383 Posts

Posted - 03/23/2010 :  22:04:24  Show Profile  Visit FEMA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Art, this is super especially since I am planning to do this project. Now, what I am wondering is this - is this the procedure just to replace the airbags? Meaning, do I have to remove all the hardware as you did whether I paint them or not?

It's certainly a good idea to address all these pieces while you are in there and I'd like to do the same. Right now of course I'm wondering if I am up against time before the meet, plus I need to replace some valves which I assume are no big deal...so I need to look into this as well.

My bad for procrastinating

Francis E. Abate
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Art Love

Australia
6218 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2010 :  04:08:47  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Francis,

It is much easier to replace the air bellows on the bench rather than on the car in a 6.3. On a 600, I don't think that is necessarilly the case because the system of attachment is different. The rear pistons are held on with one bolt and washer and the rear tanks by three nuts and washer sets. You can reach the rear nuts at the front of the trunk and the front two by taking out the bench of the rear seat.

On the front, the piston is held to the lower control arm by 6 bolts and nuts. The only special tool you need is a right angle flat bladed screwdriver to hold the screws while you undo the nuts and washers. The air tanks are atteched at the top by three nuts and washer sets. - 13mm, same as the nuts in the trunk and under the rear seat.

Trying to undo the screws, nuts, lock plates and stiffeners with the metal tanks on the car will drive you nuts. I noticed that Paul Jermy had his tank bolted to a piece of ply rather than my special tool set up. There are plenty of ways to skin a cat. My advice is the remove the units, give everything a good clean, rezinc the plated items if you have a local plater with a quick turnover, just clean if you don't. Preorder a set of lock plates from Tom Hanson as well as a few spare nuts, screws and washers just in case and go for it.

Yell if you have a problem.
Art
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FEMA

USA
1383 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2010 :  09:55:42  Show Profile  Visit FEMA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Sounds good Art...I don't yet have a lift so I imagine this makes it a bit more difficult but so be it. Any more hints regarding only having stands to work with let me know.

Also, I have two bellows from the parts car I bought which were new and in the trunk, do these have a shelf life such that I should not use them?

Francis E. Abate
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Chris Johnson

USA
3751 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2010 :  12:07:47  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Francis,

I will back up what Art has said whole-heartedly. On a W112 or W109, remove the tanks from the car!

There are varying challenges the first time you try to do this. I would suggest starting with the left-rear tank first since it is the easiest to remove and reinstall. This will let you get some experience changing a bag before you also have to fight with the additional challenges of removing and re-installing the tanks at the other three locations.

There are some typical problems that you should anticipate. The line nuts that secure the steel lines into the tanks can be impossibly tight. I recommend using a good quality penetrating oil on these fittings and line nuts before attempting to loosen them. Personally, I like Kroil (or Sili-Kroil). It is expensive and not readily available at most auto parts stores, but it can be bought on-line. The manufacturer also frequently runs promotions that allow you to get one can for free so that you can try it out. I have found that, in most cases, keeping a fastener wet for about twenty minutes is the best (badly rusted stuff can require much longer).

The next requirement is to have the right tools in advance. With the exception of the larger diameter line between the rear tanks, all the rigid steel air suspension lines have a 12mm line nut and the line nuts thread into adaptor fittings that are 14mm. The adaptor is fairly hard metal and can be dealt with with a standard 14mm open-end wrench. The 12mm line nuts, on the other hand, are made of a much softer material, and rarely come loose with a standard 12mm open-end wrench. This usually results on a line nut with the flats rounded over and still tight. A "flare nut" wrench is the best way to start with these line nuts, but not a cheap one. An "easy-to-get" Craftsman wrench is not the right tool for this. A much more expensive Snap-On wrench is appropriate, but, even then, this is still a flare nut wrench and if leaned on hard enough it will still spring open a bit and can damage the line nut flats if pushed far enough. This should not be a problem unless the hardware parts are badly rusted. The tool of last resort is Vice-Grip pliers run down to a very high clamping pressure.

You will usually find that, if trying to loosen the line nut without also having the adaptor fitting held with a wrench, that the adaptor fitting will unscrew from the tank before the line comes loose from the adaptor fitting. One needs to watch for this so that he does not make the mistake of thinking the line nut is loose and continuing to "unscrew" the line nut with the wrench only to actually twist the line to the point were it breaks. This can also be a problem in badly rusted situations were the line nut comes loose from the adaptor fitting but the line nut is solidly rusted to the line itself.

Since you would be starting with the left rear tank, you have to deal with two line connections (unlike any of the other tanks). The second line connection is the line to the right-rear tank, and the line nut is 14mm and the adaptor fitting is 17mm. Same problems, same solutions. But, once the line connections are loose, the left rear tank will come out easily once the three nuts holding the tank to the chassis are removed.

Next is the right rear tank. This is a bit of a pain, and it is best to drop the front end of the right torque arm. Other than that, it comes out the same way as the left-rear tank.

The front tanks are not overly difficult to do, and different folks use different methods to remove them. Personally, I prefer to remove the outer ends of the tie-rods (with the appropriate tool, not a pickle fork) and leave the front suspension hanging low. With the piston loose from the lower A arm, the piston can be easily pushed up into the old air bad leaving plenty of room to remove the assembly from behind the subframe. When re-installing the assembly, do not include the piston. Once the tank and bag assembly is fully installed, the piston can be easily slide up into the bag and onto the lower A arm.

Note that the original slotted screws that secure the piston to the lower A arm are no longer made! Certainly, there are others that will work just fine mechanically, but for us folks that appreciate originality it is important to be gentle with these screws so that they can be re-used.

Modern air bags do have a production date cast into the rubber. This has the form of "month" - "year", both in two-digit form. You will find this on the outer surface just below the sealing rim. If your spare bags do not have this production dating, then they are very old. If they do have the dating, then you can tell when they were made. Personally, I won't install anything more than a few years old, but then, I don't have any spares sitting around either. If you find the dating and it is more than a few years, post the date and we can speculate about their suitability for the task.

Having moved entirely too many times, I have no idea where some of my special tools are. While a rigid base for the air tanks is nice, it is not necessary in order to remove and re-install the bags onto the tanks, so don't be concerned if you can't come up with an easy solution to that problem.

Removing the nuts and bolts around the perimeter of the bag clamping ring on the tanks should be done by unfolding the lock plates from the nuts and then loosening the nuts with an open-end wrench, but sometimes it is very difficult (read impossible) to loosen the nut this way. In this case you can try to loosen the bolt instead, using a typical auto parts store hand operated impact driver. Don't start smacking the thing with a five pound mallet, but a regular hammer is usually sufficient to loosen the bolts.

Chris Johnson
If you aren't constantly impressed with your car, then it needs fixing.
100.012-12-000790
100.012-12-000867
www.300SE.org
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Chris Johnson

USA
3751 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2010 :  12:22:59  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
One other thing.

I have never had this problem on a 109, but it comes up frequently on a 112, though I have to imagine it could happen on a 109. After a rear tank/bag assembly is re-installed on the chassis, the piston is installed on the torque arm. The rear axle is usually hanging down, so, so is the torque arm and piston. The piston is not well aligned with the bottom of the air bag. Once the rear wheels are reinstalled and the car taken off the lift or jack stands, it is not easy to see the piston and therefore not easy to see if the piston did align properly with the air bag. If it did not, the bag could be inflated and actually lift the car off the ground, but it would be the outside rubber sitting on top of the piston, not the center of the bag. I wish I had a picture of this. Obviously, this would destroy the bag in short order.

Ideally, the rear suspension will be resting with the axle tubes "straight out", in their normal driving condition. This will better align the pistons with the bags, and this is the state in which the system should be re-pressurized in order to guarantee that the bags mate with the pistons properly.

Chris Johnson
If you aren't constantly impressed with your car, then it needs fixing.
100.012-12-000790
100.012-12-000867
www.300SE.org
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FEMA

USA
1383 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2010 :  13:46:52  Show Profile  Visit FEMA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Chris;

Thanks so much for the thorough explanation, and having the right tools is a must I agree - been there, done that and wasted plenty of time I will try to gather the right stuff and get started.

Should we start another thread on the valve's (maybe there is one if I search) or do they just get replaced without any special adjustments? I know I have at least 2 leaking from a previous diagnosis and figuring these will be addressed with the car up as well.

Francis E. Abate
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Chris Johnson

USA
3751 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2010 :  13:51:14  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It may be better to start a new thread on that topic. If precise height setting and control is not particularly important then the valves can simply be replaced, but to set and determine that everything is exactly right is not a small topic.

Chris Johnson
If you aren't constantly impressed with your car, then it needs fixing.
100.012-12-000790
100.012-12-000867
www.300SE.org
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Art Love

Australia
6218 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2010 :  16:19:00  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Francis,

You will find pictures of most of the things Chris said in this thread.
Art
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Art Love

Australia
6218 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2010 :  16:30:15  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Francis,

There is a particular trick to undoing the air lines without which you will not succeed regardless of having the correct tools. The same "trick" also applies to any similar fitting such as the water pipes where they attach to the fittings on the engine etc. Chris has not specifically mentioned it. He has stressed the importance of the correct tools.





These 3 plus a standard 17mm and 19mm spanner do most jobs. The pipe spanner at the top is critical for standard air lines.

The trick is to position the two spanners so that you can squeeze them together with one hand. In other words, they should be positioned so that they are at an angle to each other of about 20-30 degrees and so the 12mm spanner on the pipe end fitting will rotate in the direction that undoes the end fitting. Here are a couple of photos showing what I mean. One of them is in the thread, I'm adding the second now.









Always position the two spanners so the one on the fitting you are trying to undo rotates toward the one you are trying to hold still. Always squeeze the spanners together, not away from each other. This gives a very controlled force and reduces the likelihood of rounding off the fitting. If the fitting is already rounded off and the pipe spanner won't hold, then you have to use a vice grip like Chris said.
Art
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Chris Johnson

USA
3751 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2010 :  16:45:11  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It never occured to me to specifically mention this, but I do it on a regular basis. There are locations where it is just not practical to get two hands in there, and, as Art says, it is a much more controlled action than can be accomplished with two hands.

There are also times when it is advantageous to flip the flare nut wrench over so that it "leans" toward the other wrench rather than leaning away from it, if there is enough space to do so.

Chris Johnson
If you aren't constantly impressed with your car, then it needs fixing.
100.012-12-000790
100.012-12-000867
www.300SE.org

Edited by - Chris Johnson on 03/25/2010 16:49:00
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FEMA

USA
1383 Posts

Posted - 03/27/2010 :  12:17:15  Show Profile  Visit FEMA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Ok Art / Chris - I understand and just want to confirm those tools Art shows in the picture are flare nut wrenches, hex shape as shown right? I asked because it's hard to see the flat (hex)sides of the 17mm (maybe well used )so I was not sure if this was some other special shape to it.

I see the middle is a standard 14mm, not flare.

I'm going to ask my neice who is a trained BMW mechanic in NJ if she has these tools in high grade manufacurer like Snap On. If she does not for some reason do you guys think NAPA or Craftsman carries a higher grade that would do the job? We do have a local Snap On rep that lives in the area so I will go to him if I have to...just want to be sure and get your confirmation.

Looking forward to this challenge

PS - just found the old bags that are unused they have the following markings, Phoenix Harburg, 1A04, and date coded (?): 1281 & 0183...and these two are the smaller ones which assume are either front or back???

Francis E. Abate

Edited by - FEMA on 03/27/2010 12:48:43
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cth350

USA
1517 Posts

Posted - 03/27/2010 :  13:01:28  Show Profile  Visit cth350's Homepage  Reply with Quote
My craftsman flare wrenches have lasted me 20 years. The one I adore is the SK (as it's even beefier). Got it at a garage sale.

Didn't Ron post pictures of a new range of snapon "brakeline" wrenches?

HTH -CTH
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Chris Johnson

USA
3751 Posts

Posted - 03/27/2010 :  13:27:15  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The top and bottom wrenches are flare nut wrenches, the middle one is a standard wrench.

The 1A04 bags are front bags, and with those production dates (12/1981 and 01/1983) the only thing they are good for is display case items.

Charlie, I agree with you that those old Craftsman tools are just fine, but the modern stuff is crap. Craftsman seems to have gone the way of so many other fine manufacturers and sacrificed quality in exchange for price. Francis, I wouldn't waste the money on Craftsman or anything available from NAPA. If it doesn't say Snap-On or some very well known European name, don't waste the money.

Chris Johnson
If you aren't constantly impressed with your car, then it needs fixing.
100.012-12-000790
100.012-12-000867
www.300SE.org
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