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1971 Mercedes 280SE

Better than ever

Classic Velocity

The 280SE is running better than ever after a few more tankfulls of fuel. It seems to start easily, and the throttle is more responsive. Temperatures are warmer as well. Today we ran across town to get latex gloves and visit a Gearhead friend. Soon another Gearhead appeared, and we had an impromptu bull session. We discussed the merits of the fluted euro headlights vs the US version, side marker lights, red turn signals, etc. Good stuff. All too soon, phones started ringing, and we were all off to other chores....

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Elegant Proof

Classic Velocity

How do you know when a classic vehicle that has been repaired or rebuilt is ready for a substantial test? Well first you follow the steps in the theory of concentric circles found elsewhere on this blog. Those steps suggest that you should increase mileage in incremental fashion in a radius around the main garage. However, there are times when you need to decide whether to take a leap that is not exactly incremental. Such was the case here, where an opportunity for a 220 mile round trip presented itself when the previous longest distance was about 40 miles. Roll the dice, or take the safer alternative?

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The drive started out in ominous fashion. Barely 20 miles in, and blue smoke was billowing. Out behind the car. Oh well, I thought, at least it happened close to home, and we could get back in time to take the safer option. After pulling off at the next exit ramp, the smoke had subsided. I pulled into a nearby gas station and began to examine the car. Underneath, it was clearly oil that was falling onto the header pipes and that was causing the smoke. As you know, it doesn't take much oil to produce a heck of a lot of smoke. In the engine compartment, there was no obvious leak or wet spot that seems to be the culprit. A check of the dipstick revealed that the car had not in fact consumed any significant amount of oil. I topped up the oil, and decided to proceed to the next exit. If the smoke returned, I would turn around for home. If not, I would continue. Several exits later, there was no sign of any smoke.

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indeed, for the entire remainder of the trip, the car was flawless, and there was no smoke, or consumption of oil. This is the second mystery that has resolved itself with this car, and it is now in the category of reliable vintage vehicle that can be trusted for a multi-hundred mile trip. Plus it looked great at the elegant destination.

Running from a Mystery

Classic Velocity

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the full saga associated with this is its own story which will make the main blog. Suffice it to say that getting the machine back to running condition involved parts, frustration, trial and error, trailering to a shop, working on it at that shop, and a mystery ending. I am working on the screenplay......at the end of the day, the car is now running well with the Pertronix back in place. I took it for a 20 minute drive today and all seems well. I can now resume the original list of tasks.

Not Running, Not Driving

Classic Velocity

After a nice drive on a sunny but cold day, the car suddenly stopped while travelling about 30MPH a quarter of a mile from the garage. There was no sputtering, no poor running, it just quit. It would crank, but not fire. Fortunately, I was walking distance from the garage, and came back to the car a little while later. Same thing, crank, but no fire. All spark plug wires were attached, looked like fuel was getting to the plugs, so no spark was the apparent reason. I towed it back, making this the shortest tow in the history of towing, but this car is heavy, and I needed to go uphill. I got a condenser and points, and I may go with electronic ignition, but first I want to find the culprit. Coil and the CDI are on the list of suspects..... 

Running and Driving

Classic Velocity

The car is now running, and a million small things have been sorted out. Turn signals, horn, a little brake shudder, fluid changes, etc. More importantly, the car has been driven around a bit in order to build some confidence. It feels a bit high strung at highway speeds since it has no overdrive, but I was reminded by a forum member that these cars were intended to live high in the rev band at speed. It just seems counter-intuitive to have a big luxury car sound anything other than relaxed. I will need to get used to it....

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