Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hello Clear Eyes!

Ok in the constant quest to shed years off of the appearance of my 1990 500sl I'm constantantly scouring ebay and the fourms for parts that I could use to make the car better.

Another one (of several things) that annoyed me was the headlight frames. They were yellowed, faded, and the passenger side was actually cracked and held together with some silicone. So I came across some new ones from rockauto.com (MUCH better pricing than ebay or any of the other parts sources).

I also decided to remove the antequated headlight wiper system, as I'm never planning to drive this car in foul weather, and in my opinion it detracts from the overall appearance of the car.

Here's a couple pics of what the original headlight "doors" looked like.

You can see the faded plastic and the crack in the passenger's side frame.

So the first thing to do is to remove the actual wiper arm. First pull it out towards you.

You will see a nut behind it, loosen the nut, and the arm will come free - now there is also a section of hose for the washer system (Yes MB thought it was a good idea to spray washer fluid over the front of the car to "wash" the headlight lenses).  The hose simply slides off the nipple that is next to the motor shaft.

Once it is off this is what you will see.

Now it's time to get into removing the headlight housing, and the wiper motor shaft and washer nipple.

First open the hood, then pop out the corner parking light. The corner light is held in from behind with a clip you need to squeeze and then slide the light forward.

Then you need to remove the plastic covers directly next to the headlight, about 2" wide, they are held in with a phillps head screw at the top that goes into a plastic insert. Pull the screw and use a panel removal tool to get the insert out. Then you need to remove the metal strip underneath the headlight. There are two phillps screws attaching this, one at the bottom of the fender directly behind where the fender is, the other underneath that plastic trim you just removed. It's pretty self explanatory.

Now the trim will come loose from the body, but the rubber seal is attached underneath it. It has little pegs that go into the metal trim, but the rubber seal continues all the way to the edge of the bumper and goes between the bumper and the fender, you have two choices here, you either need to lower / detach the front bumper, or you can let the trim dangle. I let the trim dangle.

Now we need to detach the headlight housing from the body. 2 8mm bolts on the side of the of the corner lamp, and one 8mm bolt on the other side, that goes into a little plastic insert.

Pull those 3 bolts off, and the headlight is free from the body. You can lift the headlight out. First thing to do, you will see the wiper motor shaft, and the nipple for the washer are on a plastic bracket held in by 2 smaller 8mm bolts, remove those two bolts, and you can slide out the bracket. The wiper shaft is held onto the motor via an 8mm nut, remove that and set the bracket, the shaft and the nipple off to the side.

Now you have to carefully remove the rubber gasket from the old headlight door. It's held in with little small plastic push pin clips. Small screwdriver, some patience and a panel / clip tool and they are out here.

Next you will notice two clips on top and two on the bottom of the headlight housing which hold the "door" onto the headlight. Pry gently with a screwdriver, and they will release. Wiggle the old headlight door off.

The headlight housing will now look like this:

Now get out your new headlight doors, these are the ones I used, part number is on the boxes for reference:

Here's a side by side of old door v/s new.

Now slide the new door carefully into position, and slowly clip it into place. You have to make sure the door is vertically straight to get it to clip on all the way. There are guide pins to line up the doors.

Once it's on, reattach the rubber gasket, and put the headlight back into the body. Hint, start all 3 bolts before you tighten any of them down. AS most insturctions say, assembly is the reverse of removal :)

And this is what you end up with:

Now you see the trim under the headlight has the holes for the wiper shaft and washer nozzle. I already have acquired new ones, which do not have the holes from a later model SL, however they need to be painted and then installed, that will hopefully happen this weekend, and will be covered in a separate post.

One more thing that unfortuantely I didn't photograph but is pretty self explanatory. Once you have the passenger side headlight out, you need to disconnect the electrical connector from the pump that feeds the headlight washers at the bottom of the windshield washer reservoir. The reservoir is held into the car by 1 8mm bolt at the top, then it slides up (there is a metal body bracket it slides onto). Simply following the washer fluid lines will make it clear which one is for the headlights. You can also disconnect the electrical connectors and or completely pull out the headlight wiper motors. I just disconnected the harnesses but left the motors in the car.

And here's an "after" pic. It really makes the car look newer / cleaner.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Some Random Orbital Love (Part 1).

So one of the worse things about my 500sl has been the paint. It was REALLY dull. The car sat for 8 years, most of it outside before I got it. There were spots where the car was just covered in dirt. I didn't really do much besides wash it last year. It's OK from 20ft away but kind of dull and lifeless compared to a modern car.

One of my neighbors and good friends (who is also a car guy) has gotten into detailing. He has an 18 year old son who has really gotten into it, and purchased a Porter Cable random orbital buffer. He's been bugging me to have a go at the SL. While he's a good and really nice kid, I was always a bit skeptical about letting him loose on the car with something that could so easily damage the paint. Finally his dad vouched for him, and was like, let him do the hardtop... If it doesn't work out or if he hurts it I'll get it take care of. So I agreed.

Him and his dad came over and we washed the car, and then he started...

All I have to say is WOW... he made a believer out of me real quick.

He used Meguiars ultimate compound on an orange pad.

This is as he started...

You can see the difference already....

This is with the roof about halfway done.. The before and after is amazing. It looks like the paint is wet as compared to flat.

The results are hard to capture in a picture, but amazing in person. He ended up doing the whole hardtop for me, first with the compound and then with two coats of Meguiars cleaner wax.

The hardtop is hopefully coming off this evening when another friend brings over the storage cart and cover I purchased from him.

I went from being skeptical about the buffer to looking forward to when we can do the whole car... More to come!!

Out of hybernation...

So after a long cold winter, numerous blizzards etc... The 500sl has finally emerged out of the garage for another season. It spent the winter with the hardtop on, and I charged the battery once every 2 weeks with an old 10 amp Sears Crafstman charger my late father had purchased probably 25 years ago. It still works fine however....

So now that the weather finally cleared up, it's time for the 500sl to come out for the season. Hit the key and it started right up. No issue no nothing. And once I backed it out of the garage, the floor was completely dry. Not a drop of anything had leaked. Not bad for a 21 year old car!

So now there's much more to come for the year.... Next step will be to get the hardtop off. I acutally purchased a cart and cover to store it properly this season!