I think one of the scariest repairs I’ve ever done on a car was the first time I ever worked on the fuel line. I know just having gas on the ground or open does not mean there’s going to be an explosion, but for someone without much experience in auto repairs, the first time you work on a fuel line, it keeps running through your head that there might be something you didn’t tighten properly or there might be a leak and at the next stoplight, you’ll be sitting there and a puddle of gas will be forming under your car, just waiting for when you rev your engine and — BOOM!
At least that’s the feeling I hand until I had worked on a fuel line a few times and got used to it. With my new car (often called Mrs. Peel because she’s such a classic beauty and can kick some serious tail, if you haven’t been following along), one of the two mechanical repairs I needed to attend to quickly, that could actually effect the functioning of the vehicle, was a leaking fuel line at the rear, near the fuel pump and fuel filter.
To me, the biggest joy to owning a Mercedes 380SL (or a 450SL or a 560SL) is being able to drive around with the top down. I love the feeling of the sun on me and the wind in my hair. Yes, it’s a cliche, but it would not have been written about by millions of people if it wasn’t a good feeling. In Richmond it goes up to 102 in the summer on many days, with a heat index of 110 or more. Even on days like that, I can be seen driving around with my top down. Although it’s on days like that you’ll be more likely to find me feeling like I need to blow off steam and driving on the back roads leading away from the city and into the cooler areas in the wooded regions outside of Richmond.
There’s just one catch: If you’ve got the hard top on a Mercedes R107 body (which means the 280SL, 380SL, 350SL, 450SL, or 560SL), it takes at least two people to lift it off. I didn’t have anyone who could help me when it came time to finally lift the hard top off my first car of this type. I didn’t know if a hoist would damage it, so I searched the web. There was a company selling a motorized hoist for something like $850 that would lift the top up with the press of a button. There’s just one problem with that: I’m a cheapskate. I take great pride in my DIY (do-it-yourself, if you didn’t know) skills and was quite proud of myself when I found a way to easily make a working hoist for under $25.
One issue EVERY owner of a Mercedes R107 car (which is basically any 280SL, 380SL, 450SL, or 560SL) has is the strong desire to drive the car without the top. In Richmond I’m lucky enough to have the hardtop off about 7 months out of the year, depending on early or late warm weather. One wonderful thing about this car is that it can be driven with the hardtop on during colder weather or to keep it secure, with a soft top up, or with no top. To use the soft top or go topless, the hard top has to come off and every owner of one of these cars is eager for that first day when you can remove the hardtop and drive topless, using the soft top only when it gets cold for a day or two, or when it rains. The trick is in how to remove the hard top.
It’s been exactly 3 months since Dad died on January 6 of this year. I’ve gone from stunned and with a complete lack of short term memory to feeling like things were okay, then feeling like the loss was even stronger than it was before. Like everyone, I knew one day I would be dealing with my Father’s death and, like everyone who has been through it, I found that no matter what I did to prepare myself for it and whatever I imagined, it was quite different than I expected and that there was no real way to prepare for it.
When you get a car that is almost perfect, where do you start? Do you fix anything? Do you not touch it? Any used car, especially any classic car, has things that need fixing. In the case of my 1985 380SL, I had 2 issues that could affect performance. Both needed special parts and both required putting the car on ramps to get underneath to fix it. So I started with the easier stuff: bodywork. There wasn’t much, but every little bit helps.
This is just a quick post. By now I’m sure some people (if anyone is reading this at all) are beginning to wonder if my life revolves around cars. It doesn’t, but for now, I’m quite involved in the work I’ve done on my new 380SL (the 1985 red one if anyone is having trouble following all this) has taken up a lot of time and, of course, I’m quite excited about such a great find in terms of classic cars (okay, I say classic because I know an antique is at least 25 years old, but I figure I can call a 22 year old car a classic).
I know that all too soon I’ll be back to programming to finish my last major phase of work for my business (still smaller phases, but nothing as intense as what I have looming), so for now, it’s fun to be outside walking or working on a car instead of at the computer. I thought I’d include a picture here of me in the new car, just for fun.
If you haven’t noticed already, the pictures I post are thumbnails. You can click on it for a full sized picture. In this case, you don’t see much in the thumbnail.
I’ve finally got the hard top off and it looks like it’ll stay off for the season now. When I take off the hard top, that’s a sure sign spring is here!
It’s been almost two weeks since I bought my new classic Mercedes 380SL. It’s in excellent condition and one huge thrill is that it was drivable from the start. I didn’t have to drive it directly to the mechanics and leave it for days or weeks while they fixed it up so I could drive it. So what have I been doing with it since I got it? Fixing it up, of course! Continue reading