Thursday, June 28, 2007

Random Thoughts

Well, I was thinking the other day while driving (in my Benz) about the general condition of the car, and also about what I want to do on it in the future. While I was thinking I realized something. The car is mechanically very sound. Nothing major wrong with it, no safety issues, no reliability issues, really a great car.
The biggest mechanical issues with the car are pretty minor. One is the oil leak. The other is the waning climate control system.
The Oil Leak
Yeah, its a diesel; it leaks oil. That's what everyone tells me. I don't really mind the oil leak (its very minor), and it is in a non-critical part (the turbo drain tube), so why do I keep worrying about it? I guess its the black piece of cardboard in the garage that is protecting my concrete floor. It looks as if it is getting saturated, so I need to check underneath the cardboard soon to avoid a stained garage floor.
As far as fixing this, I tried last weekend. It didn't go so well. I got to the part, and saw the leak, but couldn't get much further. I think I need to take the turbo off to get the drain tube off, so the annoyance of the leak has not motivated me enough to go to all this trouble. I'm gonna change the oil soon anyway.
The A/C
The second mechanical issue is the A/C (or climate control). It blows cold air, sort of, except on really hot days, or if you try to adjust the temperature from anything other than "MIN". Now, this isn't a big deal, but I do enjoy a cold A/C on a hot day. I think that the issue with it stems from multiple problems with the entire climate control system.
One problem is a non-standard high pressure port. It's bigger than normal R134 high pressure ports and thus, will not take a standard cap to cover the port. I think it is leaking out of there. Result is I have to add a can of freon every two weeks or so.
Another problem is it just never gets really cold. I think my evaporator may be a little inefficient considering its age. I'll have to just live with this, cause I really don't want to take the dash out of the car right now.
Lastly, there is the lack of temperature adjustment. This is the smallest problem since I don't want it to get any warmer, just colder. Of course, at night when its 65F, it does get a little cool. I thinks its either the monovalve, or the control unit itself. Neither of these is particularly cheap, so I'll think about fixing this next year.
Yeah, its a good car. Am I complaining about small insignificant things? Yeah.
Are there other things wrong with it? Kinda, mostly cosmetic.
Am I gonna fix those? Probably not.

Do I still enjoy my new diesel? Definitely.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Project 1 Finished

I finally have a working 12V socket in my car now. I decided to use the 3-way power source and added a few custom options to it, along with some customized functionality using what was already built-in to it.

I added two more 12V sockets to my center console and changed the configuration so that it wasn't sticking straight up in the air (in front of the radio controls) when I plugged in an accessory, such as my cell phone charger.
Since I have no need for an ash tray, I completely removed it, and made the plugs face out instead of a hinged design as it was originally. The lack of room inside the area forced me to mount them in the way I did.
Here is what it looked like originally (sort of):Ok, I really just put the ash tray cover back on top of the finished project for the picture, and the color didn't quite work with the flash. On the plus side, though, you can see how I missed the wood color at the top, not too far off, but a good bit lighter than the original wood.

Originally, the power socket is on when the ignition is in position 2, (i.e. Run). So if I turn the car off, the power to this socket is cut. Not a big deal, but I don't like to charge my phone, then stop, then start again, etc. So I wanted one that would stay on even if I turned the car off. Not too difficult, but enough to get to do something different.

Finished Project
Well, this is what it came to look like when I finished.
If you notice the metal showing around the radio, that's just where I forgot to put the plastic trim back around the radio. The black line on the left is my cassette adapter cord running from my tape player to the back of the center console underneath the wood in the bottom of the picture. I have (since I made the picture) replaced the trim, and hid the cord behind the 12V socket wood.
Basically, the piece just fits in the space with friction, and the sockets themselves are held in place by hot glue, and a piece of wood wedging them against the main wood piece. I put a picture up later to explain it. The two black buttons operate the functions I added to the sockets.

The added functionality was really just a preference of mine for the needs I have. One is a plug that is tied to a constant 12V source (i.e. the battery). The second is to utilize the built-in battery/charging system monitoring lights that were on the donor unit.

1. The constant voltage (i.e. always on) socket was accomplished by modifying the power bus that the unit uses. I ended up using the far left socket for this use because it looks different than the others (its actually a cigarette lighter, not just a power socket).
For safety's sake I added a 10A fuse to this, and also a switch to cut the power manually if I want to have this switch turned off at any time.

2. The monitor that came with this donor unit is simply 3 LED's (red, yellow, green) that light up according to battery voltage, or charging system status. Its a neat little function and I decided to keep it since I would have had 3 holes there had I removed it. The modification I made to it though was that it would only come on when I wanted it on. I accomplished this using a cheap momentary switch I got at Radio Shack and routed through the constant power supply line instead of the original ignition switch source line.

3. I also added a power indicator (that I scavenged from the power plug on the donor unit). Its just a red LED I glued in the bottom to indicate that there is power going to the two socket on the right. I added this mainly since the plugs that connect to the factory plugs is a little loose and I wanted a way to trouble shoot the system if it didn't work.

I like it. My brother was ragging me about it, but ended up liking it when I finished it. Right now, the constant power socket isn't actually functioning correctly because I am having trouble finding a place to run a dedicated 12V+ line in through the firewall. I did find that I could tap into the clock 12V line since it is fused with the cigarette lighter circuit, so it should hold the current.

I did route the cassette adapter behind the project, and replaced the radio trim so it looks really nice. I debated adding another coat of stain, but I already have it installed and it looks good enough that I don't want to change it.

Next up: Fixing that dang oil leak.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Fixing what ails me.

So, I have a 23 year old car. Somethings going to be wrong with it. Right now, that's not much. However, I do want to perform a little maintenance on a couple of things, and do a little house cleaning on some other issues. The following are some issues I have already addressed. I just want to write them down so I don't forget.

Issue #1: Wipers don't work.

Solution: They actually do work, just not right when I got home with the car. Checked the fuse, looked good, didn't touch it. A day later, changed the fuse anyway (and cleaned the contacts) and wipers started working. Washer works too thankfully.
So, after this, I changed and cleaned every fuse connection. Except the ones for the headlights, because I ran out of 8A fuses.

Issue #2: A/C blows out hot air. (and I mean HOT)

Solution: Changed a fuse made it not as hot. Charged up the freon made it blow (semi) cold. My father-in-law (who will no doubt get a lot of mention in this blog) noticed that the cap for the high-side service port. I bought one and realized why its missing.
Even though it was converted to R134a freon, this service port is not correct, I think someone cheaped out on the changeover. I may have a local guy fix this for me since I don't have the right equipment to do this change.
Do I need to fix it? Maybe not, but I do apparently have a leak, since I have already added another can of freon (after only a month). So I think I will fix it.

Issue #3: Cigarette lighter is poorly designed. It blocks most of the radio functions when I plug in a car charger for my phone.

Solution: Ok, this one wasn't as easy to solve. So I made this my first project for my car. I will detail my solution and the design decisions I made in my next post. For now, I will just state my goals for this project and what I want to achieve.

Project 1: New cigarette lighter for console.
Goals: 1)Provide a socket that is "always on" for when I want to charge something when the ignition is not on.
2)Provide at least one extra socket that is switched to the ignition.
3)Make it look as good as the original.

General: The current ashtray rotates out from below the radio and is covered by a wood face to blend in with the rest of the dash. The factory outlet is tied to the ignition but only in position two, not one. It also comes with an ashtray (useless to me), so that can go. It should also be safe and not put too much of a load on any other in car system.

Stay tuned for the results of my first project. Here's a picture of how it looked when I started.

Monday, June 11, 2007

And here it is!!!

Ok, so I got some pictures of it the other day. Here are a few of the exterior. I will take some of the inside soon and get those up. Especially since I finished my first custom project on it.

This is the front.

One side,

And the other.

Monday, June 4, 2007

1984 Mercedes-Benz 300D

So, I used to own a VW Jetta. It was nice. A 2000 model, 5-speed, 2.0L 4 cylinder. Not a race car, but a good, reliable, fun car to drive. Well, I wrecked it, totaled it actually. Of course, that is only technical since I drove the thing home. Progressive, however, said it was totaled. So I had to find a new car.
After a couple of weeks of looking for something to drive I came upon the Benz. Not a speed demon, and not even really luxurious ride, but it is a Mercedes. The "D" in 300D stands for diesel. Yep, a diesel engine, with only 260,000 miles on it. I thought that was a great find, so I bought it.
So, now I have this car, and its running, and (mostly) everything works on it, but it is such a classic, and really deserves some custom attention. That's where this blog comes in. Here, I will record all of my exploring, and modding, and repairing that I do for/on my car.
Hope you enjoy, and leave a comment and tell me what you think about it (the car, the blog, whatever).