Part 1.5 of valve adjustment of Mercedes M110 Engine. Stuck valve adjusting nuts require a DOHC valve compressor tool, which is hard to obtain for this engine.
Christmas came early..
Notice the part 1.5 nonsense, what is that all about you might think to yourself? Have I gotten mad over New Year’s? It’s rather just because of the half usefulness of this article. Since you readers are mostly DIY mechanics and Mercedes enthusiasts, I want to convey a story of the journey toward valve adjustments of such an old engine. In this way we share the ups and downs, the challenges and successes, and maybe learn something on the way.
Remember in Part 1 https://mercbenz123.com/posts/valve-adjustment-m110-engine-part1/ where I ended with 4 different options listed with increasing price and pain? Well since Christmas came early (2018) I ended up somewhere with a solution in the middle of option 1 and 2. After trawling the used car tool market, mostly ebay, I managed to find a seller which sold a late 70s vintage Mercedes valve compressor kit for DOHC engines. Although not specific to the M110 engine it is close enough, that with a few modifications it might just work. Let me just say it was the most expensive vintage tool I have ever bought. Lets hope it can come to good use!
I almost did not buy due to the high asking bidding price, but after the deadline was reached it was still for sale. I decided to go for it as a Christmas present for myself and bid on the tool for a little less. Chance happened that we compromised and reached a fast deal. Two weeks before Christmas it landed in the mail box.
It comes with 4 different valve compressors, although I’m not sure if any of them fit right out of the box. I might need to adjust one of them. The lever bar has a simple screw on attachment to swap out the compressor ends. The Hook is not attached, but can be placed in different grooves. I might also need to adjust the arrangement here as well.
Under I have tried to visualize how the tool is operated on the valve head. The idea is to compress the valve just enough so I can slide off the rocker arm. Since the valve clearance adjusting nuts are so tight we need a socket over the nut which is naturally blocked by the rocker arm.
I’m excited to see how the tool can be used in real life, but since it’s winter and the car is hidden away, this have to wait until spring. I’ll keep you posted on the progress in this journey as soon as possible.
Cheers! Robs out
Other news: I tried to sell the S600 in the autumn, but was unfortunately little interest which is hard to believe when regarding the current economics and huge interest in classic cars. Norway is a weird country.. The car is in mint condition with low mileage so I will not give it away for free. I will instead keep it and enjoy it, make some good articles about the w140 and let time mature it into a true classic.
I planned the valve adjustment job to be straightforward and easy, making it a delight to write an article about afterwards, but no! In the end I could not even adjust a single valve out of the 12 in total, and this is why I will divide the so called adventure into multiple parts and share my experience on the topic.
“Mother nature beats father engineer every time..”
Valve adjustments should be done every 15.000 km which means for most people every 2. or 3. year and is important for engine performance and fuel consumption. Neglected maintenance can even end up wearing your cam lobes prematurely if they get too tight!
A story of success
I got all the parts I needed, that is really only a valve cover gasket set. I let the car stay overnight for the engine to cool down. Then I start pulling out the spark plug wires, no need to mark them with cylinder number..haha! I unbolt the valve cover in a breeze, the nuts I throw somewhere neat.
Then I check the valve lobe timing, oh see that the first one is perfectly aligned already so I can start adjusting the first valve immediately. I find my valve feeler gauge easily from the toolbox and it’s not rusted together at all. I adjust the first valve and since my memory is faultless I can easily keep track of all the valves I have adjusted and the ones who are left. The crank is so easy to turn by hand and I don’t need to remove the radiator shroud or anything silly like that. I get everything done in under a less hour and bolt everything together with the new valve valve gasket and I’m now already on my way to the race track with 40 more HP.
This is all however a big lie.
Sometimes wisdom words are painfully true: “Mother nature beats father engineer every time..”. The real struggle you can follow below.
So before starting you should take care of a few things. In theory a valve adjustment is easy and requires little preparation and engine know how. You need a new valve cover replacement kit, since your old one is probably leaking oil and a new one is very cheap. The valve adjustment can be made either when the engine is warm (just after driving) or cold (20°C). I really recommend the latter since you will not burn your fingers and get better results since the engine is not cooling down slowly. Ideally it should be at ambient summer temperatures in the shade. You have to leave the car overnight to properly cool down after driving so this have to be planned in advance.
The tools you need is just really a spanner and some feeler gauges for the adjustment and a socket for turning the crank over, but as we will see here this is not the case for my case.
I start by removing the air filter housing to access the valve cover freely. Then I mark every spark plug wire with a number on a piece of tape. Usually the spark plug wires are different length, but it’s so much easier to plug them in afterwards. Then I take out the spark plugs.
Now I can start removing the valve cover bolts and place them somewhere safe. I note that the middle ones have a copper shim which I can keep, but the new valve cover gasket comes with replacement ones. It’s always nice to keep bolts, nuts and shims if they are in good order.
NOTE OF CAUTION With the valve cover off is is extremely important to not drop anything into the engine like a nut or something, since this will cause catastrophic engine failure. Also keep dirt away and exercise hospital level cleanliness while the engine is open. Cover it always when not working on it, like lunch break etc..
I then go in the the toolbox to find my gauge feeler blades and realize they have rusted together and end up throwing them. I go in my dad’s old toolbox and luckily find some that are in a bit better shape. With a cold engine the inlet valve clearing should be 0.10 mm and the exhaust 0.25 mm. I draw a diagram over the valves so I can mark them after every adjustment, it will be very hard to keep track of otherwise. Just try remembering 12 boolean positions for reference!
Of course none of the valve lobes are pointing directly vertical for any of the valves after opening the cover, that would be too easy! So I go ahead and try to turn the crank, but come over a problem. The fan shroud is too tight to engine for me to get any socket tool and ratchet to the crank. Loosening just the fan shroud is not helping either since the fan is sitting tight to the shroud. Then I loosen the fan and I can just get enough room for the ratchet and finally being able to turn the crank.
I align the first cam lobe and is ready to check the valve clearing. I expect most of the valves to be to bee way too tight, and the first one is as expected. I grab my spanner to start adjusting, but the valve adjusting nut is not moving at all. In fact I’m starting to slightly round off the nut. I stop before I ruin it. Then I quickly check a few other valves, they are all tight as expected, but also here the valve adjusting nuts are super tight. I am totally stuck.
After searching the Internet for similar issues it seems this is a common scenario for these aging engines. The nut material is quite soft and can easily be rounded off when they are tight. The solution is to remove the rocker arms to access the whole nut so you can get a socket over it to exert more force.
Seems easy right? To remove the rocker arm you need to depress the valves somehow. They are under very high pressure from the valve springs and a special compressor tool is needed. There are many different DOHC valve spring compressor tools on the market, however the M110 engine have very tight space between the cams and the engine walls where the spring compressor have to fit. And the valve is at an angle so the tool need to be just for this purpose. There is such a speciality tool for the M110 engine, but I can’t find it on a single place on the internet. It turns out it is in fact out of production. Fuck!
I am stuck and have to abandon my job and put everything back together. This was a waste of time! (But in the back of my cynical mind I think it can be turned into an article at some point..)
Here is a diagram over the valve assembly to illustrate the point better.
The valve compressor tool is like a leverage bar with a hook for the cam axle and a crow foot depressor at an angle that can slide between the engine wall and the cam axle down on the top of the valve. It looks like this:
how to solve the tool problem
I have considered some options below and ranked them from easier/cheaper towards more expensive options.
Obtain the tool
I have really tried to find this on the internet, but with no success. I think I will not be able to obtain it. Not sure if Mercedes has one , but I am scared of even asking, it’s probably super expensive.
Make the tool myself
I know how it looks like and roughly the sizes. I can easily obtain some steel, and a crow foot. I have a welder so I can make the tool. However I expect it to take some time to assemble. Definitely worth looking into.
Take the car it to a workshop
I can just take it to a workshop and tell them to adjust the valves, but they are going to run into the same problems like me and they might end up ruining the valve nuts unless I explicitly tell them the problem in great detail. Remember these days no cars require manual valve adjustment and only the more experienced mechanics have done this. If you want things done right, better do it yourself.
Contact Mercedes on how the fuck….
This is my last option and will consist of asking if they have such a tool, and if the tool is not for sale (or out of production), if they can at least adjust the valves if they can send a tool from Mercedes Classic in Germany to their workshop. Problem is that is going to be very expensive for a simple job. Not likely I will venture down this path. Also would turn into a dreadfully boring article for you DIY people!
More on this adventure when we return in Part 2 of the valve adjustment nightmare… soonish
Too hot or too cold engine will result in power loss and inefficiency in the combustion process. In the worst case total engine failure. The thermostat is actually a wear item that should be changed every 5-8 years. In some cases even between every season if you are living very far north where the winter temperatures varies extremely much between the summer season. I think this applies even for Norway especially in a Diesel where it’s difficult to get the engine warm in the winter.
Is your engine experiencing climate change?
So how do you change it? Is it difficult? I will tell you all if you hang on with the article.
Parts you will need
New thermostat. Thermostats have different temperature ranges where it is fully open, check with the manufacturer/ owners manual what is recommended for different ambient temperatures. For cold weather thermostats that open later are common, i.e. it will open at a higher engine temperature.
New upper radiator hose and clamps? Evaluate the condition of the upper radiator hose, change if it’s worn. Since a broken radiator hose might cause catastrophic engine failure. Also the hose clamps might break if they are old and rusted.
Start with emptying the radiator coolant. There is a plug on the underside which can simply be open by a screwdriver. When it is fully drained don’t forget to put the drain plug back in. Then go to the next step.
Now you have to remove the upper radiator hose. Each end is attached with hose clamps. Hopefully the hose clamps tightener are easily reachable. They usually can be loosened with a small socket or a screwdriver. Choose the socket if you can since you might just destroy the screw notches if it’s stuck. Be aware that more coolant might come out when you loosen it so be ready to catch it.
After removing the upper radiator hose you have access to the thermostat housing. It is attached with 3 bolts. These on the M110 engine is usually ok to get out, but on some other engines like the OM617 they are terribly constructed. Now you have to take extreme care not to ruin the bolts otherwise your quick fix will turn into a long and unpleasant affair. The aluminium housing of the water pump housing will stick to the steel bolts after some time.
After the housing is removed, you have access to the thermostat. Just pull it out with your hands. Also note the placement of the rubber gasket. This have to be replaced by the new gasket which comes with the new thermostat.
If you really want you can test the old thermostat by boiling it in a kettle with an accurate thermometer. When the spring opens is when the thermostat is heat rated. Probably your old one has deviated slightly from it’s original heat rating. If you are totally paranoid you can the test the new one as well!
Clean up the housing before putting the new thermostat in the water pump housing. Put the gasket on top of the thermostat as seen below.
Before putting it all together you have to clean off the oxidized aluminium from the thermostat housing. It is important to avoid coolant leaks in the future. This is easily done with a simple wire brush.
The bolt on the thermostat housing should be tightened down until both the surface of the metal meets. Do not over tighten the bolts since you will end up stripping the soft threads in the water pump. Then you will be in big trouble. Use only a small ratchet to avoid the large torque. Get your new upper radiator and clamps ready.
After fitting the new upper radiator hose. You have to refill engine coolant. This is not as simple as just pouring in new coolant and closing the lid. You have to let coolant circulate and get out the air out from inside the engine.
Start by turning the heater on MAX inside the car. This will allow for coolant to circulate the entire system. Ideally you should have a large funnel which can be screwed down into the radiator, but this is a specialized tool which most of us don’t have. So start pouring coolant until you see it forming though the opening, but don’t make it full. Now you have to turn on the engine with the radiator cap open so air can escape from the engine. CHECK for coolant leaks!!! Did you remember to tighten the radiator drain plug? While the engine is running you will probably see the level decrease slightly while the engine burps, but bear in mind that coolant also expands as it heats so a level change might not be visible. When the engine starts to get warm and has burped some, try filling until the minimum mark and close the radiator cap.
Then go for a short spin. Observe the temperature gauge closely. Mine increased suddenly until over 100°C then did a sudden jump back down to 80°C when the radiator popped open. I might have had some air still in the engine and the thermostat might have been slow on the first opening since it was new. It never run above 80°C after that one time. To be on the safe side, stop the car if you see such sudden peaks in the temperature gauge.
When you are back. Let the engine cool down at least one hour, before tempting to open the radiator cap, since most likely coolant will pour out and scolding your hands. After one hour open the radiator cap and refill coolant until it reaches the maximum mark.
Ever felt that the engine is not making as much power as it used to? And that the fuel economy has been slowly decreasing? The first thing you should check is the condition of your injectors. Unless you have a pressure tester for the injectors, you would have to guess out from the age of the injectors. If they are more than 10 years old I would suggest to change them, that said if the injectors are relatively cheap since they vary a lot in price between the models. They are still relatively cheap for the M110 engine. E.g. If you have the rarer M100 engine, it will cost you nearly a new house to buy new injectors!
I will describe how you change the injectors with new ones. Refurbishing the old ones is a bit more cumbersome and it needs a pressure tester which you can clean them with and test for release pressure and spray pattern.
Changing the fuel injectors is not difficult and you don’t need much preparation except acquiring new injectors, gaskets and o-rings. There are two gaskets per injector you will have to change or you will end up leaking fuel which is expensive. You can change the injectors easily in an afternoon. I also recommend to change the fuel filter at the same time to not clog up your new injectors.
Start with opening your hood and disconnecting the battery. Sparks can make explosions from gasoline vapor when you are working with the fuel system, and we don’t want that to happen.
Remove the air filter housing to get access to the fuel delivery system.
The four front injectors you can now access without removing more stuff, but to gain access for the last two, you have to remove throttle linkages, fuel hard lines and a fuel regulator. We’ll come to that later.
Two and two injectors are held in place by a single metal plate, to remove the metal plate loosen the injector hard lines first. The injector hard lines should not sit on very hard unless they corroded over time or they have been over tightened. Use two spanners, one 14mm to loose the line nut and one 12mm on the injector itself to to keep it from rotating.
When two hard lines are loosened you can bend them a little to the side to get more access and then remove the injector hold-down plate.
After the plate is removed you can pull out the injectors with you fingers, they sit loose in there. The injector housing will be left, This plastic housing you can just pull out straight too, but be warned, do not use excessive force and pull only the housing straight out with you fingers, don’t use tools or you might damage it. It most likely have become quite brittle by heat over the years. If they are in such a bad condition they are cracked, you have to replace them.
Most likely some of the injector housing gaskets do not come out with the housing, but is still sitting in the injector hole, use a small flat screwdriver and pry it carefully out.
After removing the first four injectors, the two back injectors are left, now the big job starts. See in the picture below that these things blocks access to the fuel injectors.
Start with removing the throttle linkage. Remove the pin and the c-clip along the ball joint. I use a wide flat screwdriver to pry the ball joints off. Remove some more linkages and then you are ready to remove the regulator.
Warning: Get a small collecting can of some sorts and tilt it towards the injector line shown in the picture below. Loosen it and fuel with shoot out with high pressure. Wait until the fuel stops flowing, then loosen the second fuel line connected to the regulator.
Also loosen the vacuum lines before removing the fuel regulator, it is fastened to a bracket with two small bolts.
Now you should have clear access to the last two injectors.
Now is the time to inspect the old injectors and look at those old brittle gaskets. It is a reason why your car was using excessive fuel…
My old gaskets were super hard, especially the round outer ones. No wonder why there was a lot of dirt around the injector area by the engine, they have probably been leaking a while. This job should have been done years ago. I didn’t notice it when the engine performance still was very good, but obviously not optimal when looking at this leaking issue. The old injectors I don’t even bother testing, I will just throw the old ones and put in new ones.
This is how you should assemble the injector with the gaskets:
Pop on the big rubber gasket on the injector itself.
Pop on the little rubber ring on the injector plastic holder.
Pop the injector holder into the engine block until you hear and feel a nice pop.
Slide all the injectors into the holders. Put the hold-down plates over them and tighten.
The injectors will now have a good seal and no fuel will leak. It is also a good idea to clean up the area around the injector holes in the engine before assembly. Also try to be super clean with the new injectors, keeping the plastic cups on as long as possible before fitting them.
No you also have the perfect opportunity to lubricate all the throttle linkages, such as the pivot points and ball joints, I know they have been neglected for years and we are all guilty as charged. However now is the perfect opportunity for redemption. Remove all the linkages and pivot plates, clean them and apply new synthetic grease that will last a while and hold up to water and heat from the engine.
When everything is bolted back together, there is no such thing as dreadful bleeding like in a diesel. Just crank the engine over a few times and the engine should start, it will run rough for a little while until the pressure have settled, and you might experience hard start the first couple of times before the first drive. This is the time when you realize if the electric fuel pump needs replacement or not, mine is some years old and still going strong, although it have been replaced a couple of times the last 15 years.