2 3 4 5 6
a_florida_man Reader
1/23/19 8:35 p.m.

A few days ago, the Carsoft V12 for MB system arrived.

It was about $180 total, and it covers a BUNCH of older Mercedes and Sprinter vehicles.

I think that this with a KESS ECM tuner system, I should have all of the eTools I need.

Here are a few shots.

The system consists of a CD (software) a USB key, serial cable, multiplexer, a variety of MB OEM plugs to connect the multiplexer, and a standard US OBDII cable. It's all legit, no pirated software, of course. The old Toughbook was one I had around.

Here is the multiplexer and the 38pin MB cable for this car.

The software is very straight forward. Out of the box, it was 100% intuitive.

 The screens were verbose, and schematics, tests, and system operation descriptions were easily accessible.

a_florida_man Reader
1/26/19 9:35 p.m.

I jumped into a couple of projects today... 1st, the headliner:

I stripped off the old vinyl, and scrubbed off the old foam rubber.

Next, I carefully cut out a replacment using the old piece for a pattern. I got a 40% off deal on some  vinyl at Hobby Lobby. GREAT!!

And then I found out that the vinyl was too stiff, where the old stuff was sort of stretchy.  Almost like rubber actually. The headliner is convex and the new vinyl would bunch too much in the corners. So no more pics. At least I had the good sense not try to glue it down and have a FAILURE and a MESS, lol. I might try to find some nice foam backed cloth. I think that would conform a little better. 

a_florida_man Reader
1/26/19 9:47 p.m.

Next project.

I saw oil weeping from here on the back of the valve cover out of this hole. This is the coil cavity drain. uh oh.

I knew that meant i would find this:

All 4 tubes were completely full of oil. Pulled the plugs, they look great, and the coils are date coded mid 2016.

So, the PO had told me that one of the last things that he had done was a VC gasket. I wonder if the VC was diagnosed due to the weep hole leak, and the vc gasket was replaced, but not the spark plug tube seals? The gasket looked great. The seals did not look new, but it might be hard to tell, frankly.

I'm going to do the seals and not the VC gasket, because , you know , budgets and stuff.

Luckily the rest of the top end looked basically ok.

DeadSkunk PowerDork
1/27/19 7:03 a.m.

In reply to a_florida_man :

I've used the headliner fabric from our local Joann Fabrics store. Usually there'll be three colour choices and it's stretchy enough to do concave sections.

a_florida_man Reader
1/27/19 7:26 a.m.
DeadSkunk said:

In reply to a_florida_man :

I've used the headliner fabric from our local Joann Fabrics store. Usually there'll be three colour choices and it's stretchy enough to do concave sections.

Funny you suggested that, the wife told me to go there and check that out... thx.

karplus2 New Reader
1/27/19 9:23 a.m.

In reply to a_florida_man :

Don't pay full price at Joann though. I was able to google and find a 40% off a single item coupon. I was able to get the material for doing the headliner in my Mini for super cheap and the tan was a pretty close match to original.

a_florida_man Reader
1/27/19 7:38 p.m.

Rainly day today, cold too. (For Florida...)

Covered the headliner: ($7.00)

a_florida_man Reader
1/27/19 7:45 p.m.

Also started the K40 relay module rebuild / re-design project.

Obviously I'm going for REPLACABLE relays for the future. 

Also with individual, external relays, diagnostic work is easier.

Relays, $9.99 for 5, and $0.13 for 5 resistors.

So if this works out, I'll back out the new K40 ($134.11) and add in $10.12, freeing up some budget $$.

yupididit UltraDork
1/27/19 8:01 p.m.

Can You explain the k40 relay rebuild? And why? 

a_florida_man Reader
1/27/19 8:06 p.m.
yupididit said:

Can You explain the k40 relay rebuild? And why? 

Two of the relays on the board are bad. (Horn and TCS/ABS pwr). Their energizing coils are open circuits. That means they cannot generate a magnetic field and close the relay (switch). It seems that having them on a PCB is a hassle, and if they were in individual sockets, I could just replace them as needed.

a_florida_man Reader
2/3/19 6:56 a.m.

So, back to the VC gasket and tube seals.

As I started to clean the valve cover, I found that I could pull the tube seals out by hand.

That's not right.

On closer inspection, I could see that the previous (and I use the term loosely) mechanic had rtv'd the seals and just pushed them into the seal housings. He had just used enough rtv to tack them in place.

You are supposed to drive them in a few mm below the lip.

Wrong way: (flush)

Right way (recessed) (note: I know its crooked. I fixed it, this was just the best pic I had of the recess)

So good news, no $$ required as I was able to use the essentially new seals over again.


a_florida_man Reader
2/3/19 6:34 p.m.

Sooo... this week the car broke down.

I was driving to work and stopped at a gas station.

When I went to leave, it wouldn't crank.

Subsequent checks confirmed good battery, bad alternator.

Would this repair qualify for a hardship exemption?

The alternator was fine when I bough the car, and it did not act up until now, after daily driving for about a month and 804 miles. I would like to claim an out of budget repair, in consideration of the time, miles driven, and how I fixed it.

Here's how....

To begin with, the original alternator for this car is a 90 Amp Bosch unit. It's about $250 for a good one and $140 for a cheap one. Add to that, that no one stocks this on the weekend and its a few days to order one. 

I really never go to the junkyard for stuff like this, but since this is at present car #9 in the driveway and it cost $1000, spending $250 on one part was aggravating my delicate sensibilities.

Off to the junkyard, where all alternators are treated equal and cost about $26 bucks.

I bought 2 150 Amp bosch units. There were none like mine:

The two I found had bigger cases, but the two ears were in the same location,  same thickness, and they had the same distance between the mounting centerline and the shaft centerline.

Good to go!


So here is where the smart kids ask about the pulley offset, or depth.

The only credit I can give myself is that even though I checked, post purchase, I did at least check before I mounted it.


Well now, that's not good.

I was about to give in and say 'nice try' and hit amazon.

But then I remembered a certain build thread where running Ferrari parts are just ingots of the approximate size and shape to drill, mill, weld, and bore into something even better. That guy is cutting up parts that are worth more than my whole car.

Certainly I can take a sawzall to a $26 junk yard part.

And I did. (note the piece of the ear that was cut away on the vice in the next pic)

Offset looks better now...


a_florida_man Reader
2/3/19 6:49 p.m.

Ok, now we are back in business.

I used the tabs I cut off of the ears as spacers on the back of the mounting points.

I also added a washer to behind the pulley to line it up.

I flattened the end of the B+ feed and patched on the connector from the donor car.

Time to fire it up!

No smoke... :) good voltage...

And best of all, by sheer dumb luck, I got the pulley alignment spot on.

This shows the alignment of the belt as it comes off of the alternator, onto the tensioner. The belt rides right on the old wear mark.

All in all it was a good adaptation.

The use of the tabs as spacers also made it easier to get the alternator in place and line up the mounting bolts before inserting the tabs. Leaving the tabs in a triangular shape was also helpful in that it made ot easier to hold them in place .

The alternator was a good fit, and the extra size was not a problem. The wires now go on the back as opposed to the side, but that was an improvement as now it is easier to get to them.

a_florida_man Reader
2/3/19 6:55 p.m.

So, now back to the budget issue.

This is a gastropod entry.

As I understand the hardship rule (ie it broke after I bought it, with now warning), this would qualify.

I also think I am adhering to the don't be a dick concept by fixing it cheaply and with a little fabrication to boot. 

It's fixed, but it isn't $200 worth of new fixed, and is about as reliable again as it was before as a used part.

Repair cost $22.21 plus a connector @$0.05.


What sayeth the hive?


a_florida_man Reader
2/3/19 7:29 p.m.

One more thing.

It has mirror covers again.

$56.99 for the pair, direct from Taiwan via ebay.

Pretty cool that some one makes just the housing.

These are about $150 each for used assemblies.



a_florida_man Reader
2/3/19 7:34 p.m.

$1226.36 Last Total (Estimate)

$7.00 headliner

$56.99 Mirror covers.

$1270.35 Total (Estimate).

Soon I need to formally finalize the small estimates, but this # is probably still pretty accurate.


a_florida_man Reader
2/3/19 7:43 p.m.

After I back out the K40 relay cost with a replacement home built relay, I'll have a net benefit to the budget of $120.

That forecasts that the car will be paid for and repaired for about $1150 total.

Leaving $850 for springs, shocks, and misc.

Tires, OEM brake safety stuff, and ECU mods of my own design will all be budget exempt.

Rearranging electrons is no net charge right? (pun intended).

I think this is looking good so far.

yupididit UltraDork
2/3/19 10:06 p.m.
a_florida_man said:
yupididit said:

Can You explain the k40 relay rebuild? And why? 

Two of the relays on the board are bad. (Horn and TCS/ABS pwr). Their energizing coils are open circuits. That means they cannot generate a magnetic field and close the relay (switch). It seems that having them on a PCB is a hassle, and if they were in individual sockets, I could just replace them as needed.


Sweet, I almost get it! wink

sleepyhead Mod Squad
2/4/19 1:16 a.m.

In reply to a_florida_man :

I’ll defer to Seth if he posts here or in the Gastropoda thread... but this sounds legitimate.

Just make sure to document it, both in the budget sheet, and the build book.  That’s some pretty good “making things work cheap”


mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/4/19 5:58 a.m.

I'm ok with it but it's not my rule, it's a rule in the larger Challenge context and that ruling has to go to Tom. I know you should certainly have it documented in your build book either way. But ask Tom in the main Challenge section. 

a_florida_man Reader
2/4/19 6:14 a.m.

Thanks guys.

Will do. At least at $26 it's not killer either way. :)


AngryCorvair MegaDork
2/4/19 7:31 a.m.

IMO it fits the no-cost spirit because it only puts the car back to the condition it was in when you bought it.

a_florida_man Reader
2/5/19 7:26 p.m.

So, I got another new tool. God I love Amazon.

Apparently oscilloscopes have really become very affordable.

Probably everyone but me knew this already.

I am old.

I'll be using this to hopefully drive a steak in the heart of the ABS/ASR left front wheel speed sensor issue soon.

Also, in related news the HEI pick up coil for the 85 corvette challenge car seems to be good... lol.


Dirtydog Dork
2/5/19 8:50 p.m.

Seems like your moving in the right direction.  It's coming around nicely.  You know, as we get older, we all need to be "scoped".

a_florida_man Reader
2/5/19 8:59 p.m.

In reply to Dirtydog :



I don't like where this thread is 'going'. :)


2 3 4 5 6
Our Preferred Partners