Working on the van

Still not too much happening over here. I’m keeping myself busy with different kinds of stuff. For example fixing & improving my van.


Inserted the new & shiny lash adjusters



camshaft back on

After Scandinavia I decided to switch my Propane supply from bottles bought in special stores to LPG. Due to some weird german laws the replacement gas bottles which you can refill at gas stations have to be fixed to the vehicle. Since my gas bottle is just behind the wheelarch this wasn’t too easy and demanded some creative welding.


The bracket to hold the metal tie downs for the gas bottle



The whole setup attached to the van


The refillable bottle (green) including a hose for filling from the connector at the end. And a grey 5kg spare bottle, just in case…


New lash adjusters for the van…

The engine started to make a rather disturbing ticking noise when cold a couple of thousand km ago. After some enquiring a lash adjuster seemed to be the culprit and the issue was put on hold since I didn’t want to do the fix roadside and it didn’t need immediate attention. After removing the valve cover one adjuster could easily be pushed down (meaning it’s broken) while the rest were rock solid. Tdoay I finished removing the camshaft and the old adjusters. Five were changed at about 210000km and aftermarket versions produced by INA, the other five are originals (also produced by INA but with a merc part number) and hence running since 290000km. Now one of the old ones gave up. I HATE THE PREVIOUS OWNER FOR NOT CHANGING ALL LASH ADJUSTERS. They are about 13€ a pop and now I have to do all the work again…


The engine without camshaft and lash adjusters and exhaust manifold which was removed because of a broken gasket.


The missing Parts. The camshaft looks amazingly good, almost no wear and tear despite running for almost 300000km. That’s what I like about Mercs…

Now I have to wait for DHL to finally deliver the new parts and then I can put it back together…


Some thoughs on ecology of travelling by car / van

The best way to be nice to the environment is of course not to use motorized travel in any form, like riding a bicycle or going by foot. The more common approach for holidays is flying though. Or going by car.

If have been 83 days on the road burning approximately 1150 liters of Diesel costing almost 2000€. That sounds a lot.

How about flying to Australia instead? According to Lufthansa their average fuel consumption per Customer per 100km is 4 liters of kerosene (which actually is the main ingredient of diesel). They have to stop for fuel in Bangkok, so the distance is about 16000km one way leading to 1280 liters of kerosene. The price right now is 2150€ (which is probably off season).

So flying Lufthansa is a little more expensive and you don’t have to care about wear and tear on the jet and such. But you also don’t get a place to stay for the whole time… Surely there are less expensive airlines than Lufthansa but I guess their fuel economy isn’t better (less free seats on the plane but older planes as well). And there are plenty of countries where diesel is cheaper than in Scandinavia…

Lufthansa says about 25% of their costs is fuel, for cheap airlines it’s about 40%. Jet fuel is at about 160USD / Barrel (118EUR / 159L) so 0,74EUR / liter leading to 950€ for the flight which is 45% of the total price for us. That seems alright since I used the average consumption on a long distance flight. Planes burn most fuel during take-off, for short distances their average consumption is more like eight liters / 100km or much more. And operating airports also uses up some energy as well..

So there’s still the difference that the plane covers three times to distance to Sydney than I did. But the plane puts it’s fumes in the sky where they basically stay since there are no plants to convert CO2 back to Oxygen and Biomass.

Archive pic. Note the total lack of trees at an altitude of 10km...

Archive pic. Note the total lack of trees at an altitude of 10km…

But in Scandinavia there are quite some plants… Most sources say that the the impact on the climate of plane exhausts is three times higher than for cars exhausts.

Typical road in Lapland. Vegetation on both sides, occasionally even reindeer on the road..

Typical road in Lapland. Vegetation on both sides, occasionally even reindeer on the road..

So here we are: My old van has the same climate economy as an airplane while I’m traveling alone (!). If let’s say we were traveling with four people it would be almost four times better since a couple of persons more do not change the fuel economy of the van too much…

With the given Mallorca example (one ton of CO2 equivalent per trip, 2600km), my trip equals three trips to Mallorca and I did even more distance than the plane…

Are there any decent previous owners around?

Location: North of Narvik / Norway
Odo: 287950

Something was feeling wrong with the handling of the car. Only slightly, maybe it’s just the bad roads or my mind playing tricks on me since I always worry something could break. Over the last couple of days I had a look at usual suspects like the engine mounts, drivetrain mounts, shocks, … and eventually started shacking the tires. A quite familiar knocking noise on the front drivers side: a wheel bearing… Luckily almost all mercs from the 70s-90s have the same, adjustable mechanism so you only have jack up the wheel and to remove the grease cap to adjust some nut.


Something is wrong on this picture...

There actually is a reason why the caps protecting wheel bearings are called “grease caps”. They are supposed to be filled with grease.
This isn’t. The other one wasn’t neither. By coincidence (or clever packing?) I got a tube of SKS bearing grease on board, so I packed both caps with sufficient grease. After a facepalm and some cursing. I guess the bearings will hold until I’m back at the workshop in Hannover, so there’s just another item for the “take care of soonish” list.

Sometimes I hate myself for being stupid… And like me for being able to cope with it quite well…

A couple of days ago when I left the van one window was still open. I just “closed” it from outside so that it looks closed but the latches are not engaged. At the the moment I thought that’s quite stupid because I surely will forget to close it probably. Well, today I lost the window on the highway.


I tracked back but couldn’t find it anywhere. So I paid the next Bauhaus a visit to gather stuff for a semi permanent fix.


An XPS foam panel, an extruded aluminum U-shaped profile and some screws, nuts and large washer, 12€. Why not acrylic? Because it’s fucking expensive, tricky to shape with the tools I have at hand and last but not least isn’t insulating at all. Since the nights are quite chilly already and the window is just over my bed I really don’t want water to condensate over there and drip down during the night.


I surely did stuff of more beauty in my life but I guess it will suffice until I gather a new window. And if you’re concerned about that not being waterproof: XPS actually is and the panel is pressed against the original seal of the window. I guess it will be alright, but the next rain will show for sure….


Loosing time and money because of stupidity is always a bad thing. But somehow I’m getting used to it.

Day #3

Odo: 282480
Location: Vättern Lake, west shore, between Gränna and Ödeshog

Another day of driving.If it wouldn’t be for meeting Debo in Stockholm I would have never set the pace that fast. The van isn’t made for munching up kilometres, it’s just too slow. And loud. In the australian desert I could do 700k per day easily, but here there’s plenty of stuff to see all around. And the falcon did cruise at 130kph with less than 2000rpm while the van is quite loud doing 95kph cruising speed.

I paid a short visit to “Germany” to shift the weight of my beer stash.


After Sweden conquered Germany with IKEA the Germans repaid the favour with Bauhaus, Familia and probably other big companies…

At first all beer was stacked in in the “bathroom” at the farmost corner on the left side behind the rear axle. Since the fresh&waste water tank and I are on the same side of the car it started pulling to the left while braking. So I sacrificed the second bed for beer. At Bauhaus you can buy a single piece of lumber, you grab some screws and pay the gross weight and they supply saws so that you can cut the wood in pieces that fit in your car. First use of the power drill.


My precious… Securely held in place by three additional pieces of wood…

Lot’s of driving. No hitch-hikers. Stopped for a broken down Merc 190E 2.3 which overheated. The elderly couple was quite self sufficient filling it up with water and didn’t want no help so I drove on. Since it’s not that hot of a day and the M102 is a very reliable engine without heat issues I’d guess the sensor or the electric clutch for the fan probably is broken since the radiator was quite hot. Whatever, they neither fancied help nor did the want to find the cause of the problem. Depending on how far they have to go they’ll probably have to let the engine cool down for quite some time…

In the evening I met a nice couple from Austria with children and we spent quite some time talking. While they were bedding their three children I just sat by the sea enjoying a beer and “a clash of kings” as an ebook. Ebooks with backlight are really handy while watching a sunset…


Vättern, Veltins and a good read which fits into the scenery… It starts feeling like holidays…


Different spot, same evening…




Wiring done wrong #3

Basically soldering wires together is a good idea. But just as with welding you either got to do it right or you should resort to another type of bonding (something with screws for example).


Connection between alternator and both batteries. Unfused.

I’m not quite sure how much current the gel acid battery can pull but certainly more than 50 amps. The wires are 5mm in diameter. A good joint is recognized by solder flowing in between the little wires and a flat & shiny surface. That’s because solder really flows like oil if it has the right temperature. Here the solder is only dabbed on top. To get a nice connection you have to heat up the copper to the melting point of the solder (close to 400 degrees Celsius). Since copper is really good in conducting heat you would need something like a little blowtorch to get such a cable to the right temperature. This would also ruin the insulation. In short: Do not try to solder thick wires. Use terminals. And don’t forget the cable end sleeves on screw terminals. They save lifes! If you just screw the wire in you will damage the little wires and by time the connection is so thin that it heats up and / or get’s disconnected. Since the whole body of a car is connected to ground / the batteries the loose cable just has to hit the metal to produce big sparks and to get really warm. Like red hot.


I gotta be am nuts…

Let’s try to cut a long story short. The guy who sold me the new axle was wrong. It’s not for a 3.2 ton model but for a 2.8 which means smaller brakes (the body of the axle is the same). I was wrong as well. I forgot about the abs system of the van because it’s very rare on these models. So I had two good reasons to put the breaks from the old axle on the new one. Since somebody on the internet stated that the drive shafts are the same I thought I could use the old shafts with an ABS measurement ring in the new axle. This guy was wrong as well, the shafts are not the same.


The shafts from the right side are not really the same, the ones on the left side are totally different (no photo)

So I’m sitting on the floor of the workshop being sad. Let’s put all together just the way it was, return the axle to the seller and cut my losses in time and effort. Before I was getting really sad I returned home since it usually doesn’t look that bad at the next day.


That’s what I left

The next day: Alright.I can’t switch the shafts. So the new shafts need ABS rings. There are only two problems. First the Axle has no seat for an ABS ring and second according to the Mercedes Electronic Parts Catalogue (EPC) the ABS Ring is not available as a part. The guy at the dealership said the same (hence using the same tool probably).


This picture shows the absence of an seat for an ABS ring. So there is nothing to be seen here. Yet…

So I decided I won’t try to remove the rings if I can’t get replacements. It’s common knowledge that the axles of the mercedes g-model (decent 4×4) are more or less the same as the ones in my van (merc T1). So I searched ebay for an ad with a picture of an driveshaft which resembles mine and is equipped with an ABS ring. Bingo! The G-(Sub)Model W463.225 has the same driveshafts by the looks of it. For this model the EPC lists an ABS ring which looks like mine and has the same inner diameter. What coincidence! Part Number A4633570051, 3 pieces of total stock in whole Germany, next day delivery, 120€ + tax. Alright. Expensive. But a risk I’m willing to take…


The driveshafts fits on the lathe…


…but it’s a close call…

The save way to remove a ring like this is to apply pressure evenly. Heating is dangerous and difficult because you don’t want to overhead the ring and the shaft is pulling out the heat fast. A rear brake disc/drum combination from the junkpile makes the perfect piece for applying pressure. (After some machining). By the looks I’d guess it’s from a W124 or W201 Merc.


Custom build ABS Ring removal tool


It just fits perfectly…


Apply some pressure, give it some gentle beating with a hammer until the ring slips, apply some pressure, beating, … until it falls off


The new seat for the ring


Heating the ring to make it wide enough to fit on the seat, BBQ Style


Old driveshaft vs. new one