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Schaefft's Bargain Barge Extravaganza - Merc Maintenance


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Big thanks to Mr. @Six-cylinder for picking up the set of coilovers for me today, it really is very much appreciated. :) 

Of course its typical that the opportunity to buy a reasonably priced set of decent 1st gen LS400 BC coilovers only comes along the moment I'm installing my Ebay specials, I've had search alerts up since 2018. However, it will be a great opportunity to compare both brands with each other and see how much additional comfort/durability you get from a set that would overwise cost about 5 times as much. The BCs will also have adjustable damping which should make a huge difference.

The coilovers are not the only area that still need some attention on the Celsior. The car had an illuminated ABS light since I got it, I innitially thought the wire coming out of the front sensors were just cut off, as it turns out these ABS sensors have two wires, and the cut wire is easily replaceable as its just a second connector on top of the actual ABS sensor!

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Does anybody have a clue what this could be for? Seems to be independent from whether the car has Traction Control or not, second connector was added with the facelift for some reason.

Hopefully finding a replacement cable will prove easier than finding a sensor.

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It is indeed! I've had another look yesterday to confirm, the '92-94 LS400 brake pad wear sensors do indeed use the ABS sensor wiring loom, and therefore use a connector that is sitting directly on top of the ABS sensor. Which is great news as the wires werent cut, its just the front wear sensors that for some reason weren't connected back onto the brakepads, making it look like the ABS sensor wires were damaged.

I've switches around the struts yesterday and removed the last original strut in the front, which to my surprise was still having a largely intact spring. Removing the others was easy since they were shattered to pieces, this one needed a little bit of creative thinking however to get out... Once again my Dremel gas soldering iron game in handy as mini torch to heat up seized nuts.

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Can you believe that this was the most well preserved strut in this car...?

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This is how the car is sitting right now, with the trunk full of stuff. I thought before doing any further adjustments I'd take the car around for a drive around the estate amd see how these 132 quid coilovers feel.

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A few takeaways: The car feels pretty wallowy, more than I would actually expect from it, also compared to my other cars. I have the feeling that the spring rate is too soft for the weight of the car, it could also be caused the garbage tires so its hard to tell without having a direct comparison to stock. There's also some pretty noticeable clunking noises. Now Im pretty sure I've tightened everything up properly so I am not sure where exactly whats causing that noise. It could be caused by an unknown shot bush somewhere or somehow something is still lose so I will need to investigate whats going on next weekend, I do have the feeling that it is the coilovers though.

Also the car developed a very noticeable misfire so Im going to change the fuel filter, spark plugs and wires soon and probably do an oil change. This didnt happen before I ran out of fuel so the pump might have sucked up quite a bit of ancient gunk or something, I just hope that I don't need to take the injectors out, I wouldn't be surprised about one of them being gummed up now.

The tint will get removed asap as well, it looks ghetto and I can't image it being legal, its a pita to look out of and makes the inside too dark and gloomy.

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  • Schaefft changed the title to Schaefft's Bargain Barge Extravaganza - JDM Barge Revival

The noise on my rear shock has stopped..which is good as my replacement hasn't arrived yet, starting to wonder if it will (coming from Hongkong apparently but no tracking info after asking a million times). I assume its bedded in or something.

Interesting your idea to swaperoo the springs? (And black portion of the strut?)  Certainly confirms how it looked like my LS tripped headfirst into the ground when I first put them on.  I'm tempted to copy you. 

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19 hours ago, Gerrymcd said:

The noise on my rear shock has stopped..which is good as my replacement hasn't arrived yet, starting to wonder if it will (coming from Hongkong apparently but no tracking info after asking a million times). I assume its bedded in or something.

Interesting your idea to swaperoo the springs? (And black portion of the strut?)  Certainly confirms how it looked like my LS tripped headfirst into the ground when I first put them on.  I'm tempted to copy you. 

I've read so many people suggesting doing this on the LS400 FB groups, I really can't make much sense of a weaker, shorter spring being in the front where most of the weight of the car sits. Its basically the whole strut assembly I switched around, with the longer bottom mount still in the back, the short one in the front. That way it sits at a reasonable height with lots of adjustability left.

I've ordered new plugs, wires, distributer caps and rotors, injector seals, fuel filter, brake pads, hoses and wear sensors plus a few other things this morning. Most of the stuff is coming from rockauto as, despite shipping from the US and VAT, its still significantly cheaper than buying stuff on ebay, autodoc or carparts4less. Especially consumables cost next to nothing for this car, and I definitely tried to go with decent brands, so Im quite happy about that.

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Found a set of wheels with apparently good tires a bit south of York, the tires I have on the car right now are completely shot, the front passenger side loses air rather quickly. Any shiters who happen to come through Yorkshire anytime soon?

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Good to see the Celsior getting some TLC, I hope it all works out OK.

I've done nothing with my LS since the MoT lapsed at the end of December, other than letting it run for a bit and taking it up and down the track one day. There seems little point busting a gut to get it MoTed when I won't be using it for the foreseeable future......

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3 minutes ago, Spottedlaurel said:

Good to see the Celsior getting some TLC, I hope it all works out OK.

I've done nothing with my LS since the MoT lapsed at the end of December, other than letting it run for a bit and taking it up and down the track one day. There seems little point busting a gut to get it MoTed when I won't be using it for the foreseeable future......

I feel the same about my S8, I could take it further and make sure that everything gets fixed that's left on it to be ready for an MOT, right now there's just not much of a point though. The Celsior needs enough work to keep me busy for a while though before that is ready for any inspection.

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New news!

The BC Coilovers Mr. @Six-cylinder has generously picked up for me have arrived a few days ago. I've since soaked them in penetating fluid to free up the threads, they generally seem to be in very good condition, I might give the springs a coat of paint if I can be bothered, for now the Maxpeedingrods will do until I got enough of them/they decided to call it a day.

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Also I've used the day to finally remove the window tint on the car and jesus christ what it difference it makes! I don't know how but I think it has improved the cars looks so massively that I like it about twice as much now! You can actually look inside the car, and even look outside of it! It wasn't much of struggle to get it off either, the heatgun did a good job and the tint was high quality enough to leave very little residue. I'm very please with the result and its a real motivation boost.

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For comparison:

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This is a totally new Toyota world to me:

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I used that motivation to start disassembling all the covers and air intake to get to the spark plugs which was definitely needed. Since I decided to replace the leads, distributor cap and rotors there is a bit of effort involved just to get access to all bolts. It was quite a pita to be honest, and definitely more of an ordeal than with the S-Class that has a very similar setup.

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I did get a chance to look at the timing belt though and it seems to look pretty decent, I couldn't spot any cracks at all. It will get done sometime down the line though.

I've also done some cleaning while in there. Unlike certain other manufacturers Toyota was smart enough to design the spark plug hole valve cover gaskets in a way that would prevent leaks and there was no oil inside the tubes.

Filth:

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Clean, and this was the proper grungy side where people couldn't aim for the oil filler hole properly...

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Also my wheels I bought on Facebook marketplace arrived a few days ago and I think I really made a score there. All tires are in good condition, a pair of them is barely 3 years old, the others are from 2014, plus a fullsize spare. Considering I've only paid 100 quid plus shipping for them, and considering that I've got several hundred pounds worth of parts with those wheels which the owner wanted to get rid of, I really can't complain.

Since the entire steering column, steering wheels, ignition lock and everything else was included, it also came with this nice (and moldy) Lexus key ring:

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After a bit of cleaning my Toyota has a proper identity crisis now:

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Thats it for today, I'll see if I can make some progress tomorrow. If anyone needs a '95+ LS400  cluster, ECU, AC compressor, powersteering pump, reservoirs, steering column, steering wheels or entire oem exhaust system from the middle back, please let me know😂

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  • Schaefft changed the title to Schaefft's Bargain Barge Extravaganza - Unpimp ze Auto!
  • 2 weeks later...

Some minor Celsior related news. I picked up a set of center caps for the wheels I previously bought. They are chrome while my wheels are painted (grey from the factory) but I think they might still work fairly well together. They werent in the best shape and still arent after quite excessive polishing attempts but considering these are just a temporary solution Im happy with them. The guy I bought these from had a few LS400s, I actually tried to buy one like mine from him years ago but the deal fell through. I was quite surprised to find out it was the same guy.

Before. For some reason all of them came with these googly eyes glueed on them?!

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After. Protip: DO NOT use rubbing alcohol on them, apparently the clearcoat on them is quite alergic to it. Ask me how I know.

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In other news despite the shit weather I pulled the E39 into the drive yesterday to start replacing my rear suspension components. I bought a set of poly bushes for the rear swing arms years ago. I felt like it was finally time to replace them together with the rose bushes, integral links, drop links and the thicker swaybar before getting it all aligned to sort out my extreme unvoluntary tire wearn situation in the back.

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It all came apart fairly easily which was a nice surprise and as it turned out, none of the components I am planning to replace looked too bad. Its hard to tell whether it was all still original, if that was the case it all held up remarkably well for almost 170k miles. One of the integral links definitely got replaced at some point as it was a Febi part (if someone wants it for the price of postage, let me know before it goes in the bin, its still good). In either case anything back there was at least 7 years and 40k miles old so Im not feeling too bad about it. I will if it turns out that the side to side swing Im feeling in the back is actually coming from the rear subframe bushings😬

Even with the right tool it was still an absolute ballache to get these out:

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It took a bit of experimentation to figure out the best way how to remove them. Drilling about a million holes into them worked out best in the end:

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The remaining outer casing could easily be cut with a metal saw blade and chiseled out:

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The new poly bushes were a pain to get in as well, despite cleaning and greasing everything before. One set still isnt quite flush, no clue why (probably trapped air?) but Im hoping that it'll be fine once I put them back on the car.

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I'll finish painting my swaybar the coming week so itll be ready for installing. By then my droplinks and a self locking nuts should be here. Everything I ordered for Celsior has arrived by now as well so once the MOT work on the BMW is done I can start concentrating on that again.

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  • Schaefft changed the title to Schaefft's Bargain Barge Extravaganza - MOT Preparations

Unfortunately this kitchen is doubling as workshop right now, I wish I was in a situation where I would finally know whether Im going to move soon or not. No garage until then!

And a garage would really have helped this weekend as I've frozen my ass (and toes) off trying to reassemble the rear suspension on the BMW at freezing temperatures. Getting those rear swing arms in was an absolute pita. I only noticed Friday evening that I was still waiting for my droplinks to arrive,  which didnt happen on Saturday either. I'll order a set of TRW ones from Carparts4less should they not be here by tomorrow...

Old Mazda floor mats arent particularly great at shielding your backend from the coldth btw.

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I did manage to reassemble everything with the old droplinks in place, nothing has been torqued yet though. I used the chance to replace my rusty old standard 13mm swaybar with a used 15mm one from an M-Tech II E39 which should go along well with the M-tech dampers and lowering springs that have been in the car for years. The bushes obviously are new, too, I've even replaced the locking nuts for the swing bolts with new ones (from the dealer even) although I was too cheap to replace the overpriced bolts as well. WCPGW

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Hopefully everything will be back together next weekend, I can put some new tires on the back, get an alignment and then book it in for an MOT, although I have the feeling that my crusty sills and fuel lines might be getting a little borderline now...

Bonus frosty Toyota:

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All suspension bits went in yesterday, including the drop links that arrived too late. CP4L/ECP actually screwed up as well and only sent me one droplink at first, since I finally recieved my order from ebay a day before I initiated a return, a few minutes before DPD came to pick it up the second droplink arrived... Off it went, too.

Anyway, went to Tyrespot to have a 4-wheel alignment done, then they realized they somehow don't have the specs for LHD E39s on their machine... Because what are online databases?!

Went to Kwikfit instead, they did have the specs but appeared incapable of actually aligning the rear wheels. After having posted about the event on my German E39 FB group it seems like they simply didn't have a clue how to do it properly, despite there only being two bolts to adjust, having to go back and forth between the two to get it right... I'll go to a BMW specialist next. Unless my subframe really is warped (which is highly unlikely, there is no damage on any of the relevant components) its just one more example of why I can't trust a single garage in Newcastle/Gateshead to do a half decent job.

Today I've done the fuel lines on the car. They were rather crusty and Scaryoldcortina did point them out a few months ago. Since they are stupid money from BMW I ordered 2m of 8mm anodized aluminium piping and a meter of high quality fuel hose. I also ordered a cheap set of flaring and pipe bending tools, all of this cost my a fraction of the cost of two pipes from BMW alone. 

Naturally this is a job you should do on a lift ideally, instead it was just a pain from the start to the end as all fasteners were as rotten as the pipes themselves. Eventually they came out though, they actually looked worse than in the photo:

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The bending tool did its job wonderfully, longer line so I could cut off the end of a fuel hose I couldn't replace without removing the tank:

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The flaring tool did its job decently, its a pretty straight forward tool where you squeeze the pipe into a block, put a little insert into its end and just squeeze it in there. Its not always pressing in perfecly straight but its good enough:

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All shiny and put back together. Note the ziptie around the clip, that bolt snapped off and I have no hope of ever being able to remove it myself. New hose clamps, too.

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Since I've only ordered 1m pipes (anything longer would probably be expensive to ship) I had to extend the hose of the return line, I replaced all fuel hoses that were easily accesible anyway. I even put some rubber around the extended hose where there was a risk of clamps rubbing through them. Filter was replaced at the same time, what a pain that clamp was...

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Jobs a guddun. I replaced my faulty reg plate bulb (replacement was waiting 7 years in the glovebox for this day!) and cleaned out my washer nozzles. Hopefully thats all to make it through the MOT for another year!

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No progress on the BMW, couldn't get an alignment booked in for Saturday so it'll have to wait until Thursday or so. I did however use the time to give the Mercedes a bit of tlc as it needs an MOT as well.

First thing I noticed was that the doors on the passenger side decided to not open anymore. Great! The front passenger door could be opened from the inside, the rear passenger door wouldn't open at all, no matter what. Which meant that I had to remove the door card with the door closed, something thats possible but certainly not easy. Fortunately I found some decent photos of the inner door mechanism online and was able to pry away the door panel enough to have a peek inside, not that it helped as it didn't really make much of a difference however hard I pulled on the rods leading to the latch. In the end I just sprayed everything in there with dry lube which fortunately was the solution to end this misery. I did the same with the latch mechanism of the front door which hopefully solves the problem long term. Probably not.

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When pulling off the door panel I noticed that it was soaking wet at the bottom, in fact the cardboard was so soaked that all mounting points basically came off of it. I've ordered some two component epoxy glue that hopefully will fix this once everything is dry again, no clue how it got this wet in the first place but I'll make sure the plastic membrane thing thats supposed to keep the moisture out will be properly glued shut...

The next thing was the parking brake, the pedal more or less goes straight to the floor which made me think that something wasn't hooked up or adjusted correctly. A look underneath the car didn't reveal much aside from the fact that the adjustment mechanism was putting as much tension on the cable as it could (which apparently wasnt much), and that this mechanism was literally centimeters away from the drive shaft and exhaust, making it nearly impossible to reach and adjust. Thanks Mercedes! I'll call a local Mercedes specialist tomorrow, they can deal with that and replace the snapped rear springs while they are at it.

I've also had a look at the ignition distributor since I do have an odd misfire once in a while that comes as suddenly as it goes, generally after a short drive. Apparently condensation can build up inside the distributor cap which obviously messes with the rotors ability to deliver spark where it needs to go. I've properly cleaned it all up but couldn't really find much wrong with it, maybe the seals just aren't sealing properly anymore and moisture gets in?🤷‍♂️ It runs pretty smoothly when its not causing trouble.

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Last but not least I cleaned the car for the first time in a long time and finally gave it a quick cut and polish. The car was covered in scratches caused by people furiously knocking doors into the car and what looks to be a bush scratching up the entirety of the passenger side. 5 hours later and the cars looks properly transformed, despite this hardly being the most thorough job. I can't polish rust and missing paint either. Im happy though!

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  • Schaefft changed the title to Schaefft's Bargain Barge Extravaganza - Merc Maintenance

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