You may recall a few months ago I was having issues with the clutch master cylinder in the van failing to hold pressure - so the clutch would slowly re-engage even if you kept the pedal on the floor. This was initially resolved by thoroughly flushing it through with brake cleaner and fresh fluid, however it's now started doing it again so I've ordered a new one. Hopefully it will be here in the next couple of days then we can forget about the clutch hydraulics for a few years (the slave was changed at the end of last year).
Wanted to at least try to dodge replacing it as genuine cylinders aren't particularly cheap, but I'm not cheaping out given the no expense spared approach to maintenance by former keepers. Plus it looks nice in the history file if I do come to sell it at any point.
Will be nice to have that off the list of stuff I need to worry about causing trouble in the future.
Thumbs up for Simply Car Parts...I only ordered this on Monday evening, so having it on my doorstep on Wednesday morning is pretty good going.
Here are the part numbers for those of you playing along at home.
You may be wondering why I didn't just get it from Mercedes themselves...as I've tended to use them before because their parts supply has always been so seamless and not usually much more expensive than eBay etc. This has been one of the stand out things about owning a Mercedes...that the dealers actually want to help, and at least the reception I've had in our branch has had me believe that they don't care if you're in a car that's 29 days old or 29 years. I was staggered when I walked in a couple of weeks into ownership and they in moments had managed to track down several normal service items and even a replacement lens for the indicator light on the dashboard to replace the cracked one I had.
The last couple of times I've been in though we've had some issues. I have to make it abundantly clear though, not issues with the gent on the parts desk, he's a legend and has gone above and beyond to the call of duty to be helpful.
The issue is due to instructions from corporate somewhere within Mercedes-Benz that the dealers are not allowed to have anything to do with parts supply for anything other than passenger cars - totally irrespective of what it's registered as, it's actually down to the vehicle platform...so being based on the 601 platform I'm out of luck. Instead of being able to sell me the parts, they instead refer me to a nearby commercial vehicle specialist who apparently they partner with.
Slight issue there: said specialist doesn't deal with non-trade customers. Even before we realised that, they literally laughed in my face when I went in looking for parts for a 29 year old van. Apparently I'm far from the only person to have been less than impressed with them, even in the trade.
The last couple of trips the gent on the parts desk managed to cross reference things and trick the system into letting him order parts for other models of passenger car...however we struck out on this occasion, so I had to pick it up myself. Credit to the parts manager though, he still printed off all the part numbers for me.
He also believes it's an utterly daft situation. Sure if someone comes in looking for parts for a Tourismo or Actros (coach and artic lorry respectively), then send them on to the relevant specialist...but where it's a light van clearly registered as a motor caravan...C'mon folks, use some common sense. Especially as heritage vehicles like this running around can surely only be a good advertisement for the longevity of your products...and let's face it the Merc T1 van is something of a design icon. Or is that just in my head? I know if when I was a kid if you'd asked me to draw a van you'd have ended up with something that looked far more like a Merc T1 than a Transit...
Not going to let it spoil things though...doesn't mean I won't rant about it however! Just a shame as the excellent heritage parts support was one of the big plus sides of Mercedes ownership (and I don't doubt it still is if you own a passenger car).
Amazing to realize these are now getting on for 30 years old, you still see a few in Europe, mainly campers and mobile shops etc.
Dealer service generally seems to be very variable, for the first time in years I have used a main dealer to order parts for my daughters KA, the ford dealer in Chelmsford couldn't be more helpfull yet the one in Basildon is rude and unhelpfull. Toomeys Vauxhall in basildon were great though when I was after corsa brake parts to make a conversion for the minor.
New clutch master cylinder is now fitted to the van.
Only slight headache was discovering that the hose clip had cut into the hose to the reservoir meaning I had to trim the end back a little, so the hose is now a little too short. Not a major issue in the grand scheme of things, hose looks pretty crusty anyway so probably not a bad idea to change it anyway.
The test drive revealed quite how bad it had become. The gearchange is considerably more slick now which leads me to believe that we weren't seeing the full range of motion actually at the clutch end. The pedal is also a good deal lighter which is surprising given it was already surprisingly light for a design this old.
Next task there is probably going to be getting hold of some more fuel line and swapping out the tails which connect the rigid vacuum lines around the fuel pump together (I'm assuming they're something to do with the system which raises the idle speed slightly when the engine is cold) as they have perished a bit, and I figure it just makes sense to get them dealt with while I'm thinking of it.
One thing i did find useful, as i stripped of backend completely and reframed it as it was rotten Instead of using expensive wall board re-insulated panels with 40mm insulation board instead of the glued/ fixed polystyrene board and covers using hard board which is around £12 a sheet of 8 x 4 then wall papered the board This way you can put your own stamp on it
Thanks for that. I know the layout is different, but it's just really handy to see an AutoTrail kitchen from the same model series.
The previous owner has done quite a lot of remedial work to the rear frame and floor already - even though the floor wants redoing at some point as they've really not used appropriate materials (outdoor decking boards anyone?) but the frame repairs look good.
Only water ingress issue I'm aware of is a minor one in the nearside rear corner - (panelling is kept off inside to allow it to dry out until I've solved it fully) and a very slight drip from the forward skylight if there's really really heavy rain. The inner frame on that one is cracked in a couple of places though the whole unit will just be getting changed. I'm no stranger to playing this game on old coaches, so it's one I'm familiar with!
The rest of the windows thankfully don't seem to have any water ingress issues I'm aware of. I do know full well that just means I've not found them all though!
Dessicant dehumidifiers are wonderful things though during the winter as they act both as heaters and dehumidifiers...mine shifts a ridiculous amount of air too. Usually set it running at least a couple of times through the winter months for a couple of days.
How do find the lack of power, really frustrating for me sometimes I have been told that the 2.9 5 cylinder 602 engine goes straight in on the box but will be looking into it a bit more next year Got to rebuild front end and headlight conversion to deal with first
Looks like you've got rust in exactly the same spots as mine, though the bottom of the bulkhead/front of the cab floor has already been repaired on mine. It's a bit of a patchwork quilt so I'll be expecting to need to rebuild it at some point - that point is not right now though. It's drowned in Dinitrol and is very seldom out during the winter so hopefully shouldn't be something I need to worry about for a while yet. The windscreen scuttle is the area needing the most immediate attention in my case. The front apron and bonnet could do with changing as well, but being less integral to the vehicle I'm not so worried about those as priorities. I really do need to fabricate some replacements for the mostly missing splash guards under the wings though...the ones on there contain far more air than metal.
Careful with the paintwork - be aware that virtually all of the clear finishing coats these days contain isocyanates which are downright nasty. This was something I spent quite a bit of extra time ensuring I avoided when doing the paintwork on my Invacar, making sure I was using a suitable paint and had the appropriate protective equipment. It really surprises me that a bigger deal wasn't made about this when they switched around from the old school acrylic/cellulose paint in the rattle cans...folks are aware of the issues with 2K paints used by bodyshops and such, but nobody seems to realise that off-the-shelf rattle cans aren't inherently safe either. I certainly didn't...and had spent years working on the basis of "try not to breathe too much of the cloud and work in an open area in an attempt to avoid getting high on paint fumes" without much thought beyond that. One of the annoying part of trying to do this properly is that you can't reliably filter isocyanate fumes, so a remote powered air supply is the only truly safe option...and that means yet more bulky equipment that I just don't have anywhere to store. Cost looked to be around £100 for the mask etc that I'd need which isn't unreasonable for safety critical gear...I just don't have anywhere to put it.
Luckily, it's possible to buy safer to use paints (HMG's Fleet Polyurethane single coat gloss is what I've been using) for vehicles over 30 years old - hence my waiting until next year to do quite a bit of the paintwork on my cab properly. Not all that expensive either, couple of litres from LKQ Coatings was about £30 as I recall, and it goes a lot further than a rattle can...I was painting really rough fibreglass and wasted probably the best part of a litre trying to get the (wrong) spray gun to behave...so on decently prepared steel it should go far further. They will ask you to provide evidence of the age of the vehicle that it's being used for - in my case a photo of it clearly showing the reg was sufficient.
I imagine power could be a bigger issue for you with the slightly larger body. Mine does all right, she's no sports car off the line and inclines can require a bit of forward planning, but for the most part she's quite happy to rumble along at 60-65mph. Rarely I'm unable to maintain 50+ even on hills. I've also heard that the five pot is more or less a drop in upgrade which should make quite a difference (plus you get the added bonus of the soundtrack provided by five pot warble), and is definitely something I'd be interested in considering if I were to happen across a suitable donor engine at the right price. Given my current engine is such a low mileage example and has obviously been maintained religiously through its life (I couldn't believe how clean it was under the cam cover when I changed that gasket) I'm not in any particular hurry to swap it out though.
We've a friend staying with us this week due to poor health while their partner is away on an important business trip, so I'm in a situation where I'm a bit stuck really in that I can't go anywhere or really get involved in anything too in depth in case I'm needed to assist.
Still, there's no shortage of small things I can get done.
 Van Headlight Reassembly.
Those of you who have known me for a while will be aware that the general field of lighting technology has been an interest of mine going back a couple of decades. There are no shortage of terrible and downright dangerous headlight "upgrade" kits out there, most of which seem to have the sole purpose of blinding as many oncoming drivers as possible. However when an LED "drop in H4 upgrade" popped up on Wish for £3 delivered, curiosity got the better of me and I ordered it. Not long after, a pair of these arrived on my doorstep.
Before I go any further it's worth mentioning that I am completely, fully aware that these are not legal for on road use in the UK. I have no intention of actually using them for general vehicle lighting - they have been bought out of pure scientific curiosity and a wish to see how terrible they actually are. The intention has always for once the testing was completed for them to most likely disappear into the endless pit of despair, otherwise known as the box of miscellaneous lighting technology in the loft.
I had to admit to being really rather surprised. Unlike the vast majority of HID conversions I've seen done over the years, the beam control here isn't actually bad. They've done a surprisingly good job of getting the LED arrays arranged to work well with the standard reflector.
It's worth noting that the nearside headlight is an aftermarket "Depo" branded replacement, and further investigation has shown that the beam from that is pretty poor even with a normal H4 lamp in, despite the headlight having only been fitted for a couple of months - so a proper Hella replacement is now on my wish list.
I did quite a bit of testing walking around in front of the van and asking my housemate to drive past me, and we both came to the conclusion that these headlights don't have any issues with regards to blinding oncoming traffic when they're fitted properly. It's important to note though that the lamps do fit into the collars which locate them in the headlights in four different orientations, so you need to make sure you're putting it in the right way up. I did note in the beam profile on the wall there does seem to be a bit of stray upward light above and beyond what you'd expect normally, but that didn't seem to actually translate into anything noticeable in the real world.
They seem to do a decent job of actually getting light on the road as well. Our streets around here are very well lit since the new LED streetlights were installed, so it's actually not that easy to see the spread of light on the road in front of you with the standard headlights in the van...these seem to do a better job there.
I don't actually think there is any more light hitting the ground from these lamps than the standard H4 ones, I think the light being a nice crisp pure white (I reckon around 5000K - it's a very clean white rather than strongly blue tinted) makes it seem brighter than it otherwise would.
I do reckon that one area (the legality obviously aside) these are going to fail though is longevity. To my eyes the provided heatsinking just isn't close to adequate for the intended application - especially sealed inside a headlight enclosure. The handbook which comes with these actually suggests leaving the back cover off...which is obviously a horrendous idea unless you really do want to destroy your reflectors in ten minutes flat. I'd love to be proven wrong there...and as I do still have the original nearside headlight from the van, I am tempted to stick one in there and set it running somewhere in a corner and just see how long the LED lamp takes to either go pop or to drop in brightness to the point that it can be considered to have failed. I just can't see these having a long life.
The other question for me was "are they an upgrade?" The simple answer there honestly, unless the ability to pick your colour temperature is critically important for your application...No. They don't actually give out any additional light it appears compared to a good quality H4 lamp provided your power supply is in good order.
As for are they terrible and dangerous? Not really...They're certainly a million times more friendly for other drivers than any aftermarket HID kit I've seen...Only real downside I can see possibly there relates to my concerns about longevity and they might fail on you after only a few hours...Though having said that as they're simply a drop in replacement...it's hardly the end of the world (assuming your car isn't one you need to remove the engine from to change a headlight bulb!) to resolve that situation by just sticking a new lamp in, and at least H4 bulbs haven't become too hard to find yet. From the perspective of another driver though, if the colour temperature of these was in the 2700-3500K range, you probably wouldn't be aware that they weren't conventional lamps...it's only the colour which gives it away externally.
Obviously though, they're completely illegal for road use over here, so these are destined for the box of "interesting but useless" lighting stuff. It does give me some hope though that we might some day see a retrofit provided by one of the big lighting companies which might offer a legal drop in H4 replacement. I'd always assumed it was impossible due to the difficulties in getting things to line up optically - but high power COB LEDs have advanced to the point now that it's getting pretty close to being doable now. Provided the output levels were limited to those provided by a conventional H4 lamp and the beam was correct...don't see any reason it couldn't have the relevant approval marks stamped on it. Though the cost of the approvals process for an ever shrinking market may well preclude it ever been deemed worthwhile by the manufacturers...I'll be curious to watch though.
I'm keeping my eyes open for similar H1/H7 retrofits appearing at similarly silly prices...and if/when that turns up I might need to do a similar experiment with the Xantia. Especially given it has headlamps which barely manage to scrape "adequate" as a description on a good day...
First task for today therefore was to return things to original. Despite this requiring removal of the radiator grill and the headlights themselves, this is a five minute job on the van because it's designed sensibly. While I was there though seemed a good time to clean up the offside headlight a bit. This is original to the van and was visibly quite internally grubby, and I was under the impression that the reflector was quite tarnished.
This can't have been helping anything...
Conveniently as with most things on this vehicle, the headlights themselves are designed with service in mind, and as such the lens can be removed simply by removing four screws. With the lens off I was pleasantly surprised to see that the reflector was in a lot better condition than I was expecting.
Sure it's not perfect; there is a bit of clouding in general and the coating is flaking on the very top and bottom of the housing, but it's perfectly serviceable until such time as I track down a new headlight.
Five minutes scrubbing later had things looking much healthier.
Even more visible with the headlight turned on, it was really obviously cloudy before - and that indicated light that was being scattered and going places other than where it's designed to.
I really like this sort of image...It really does go to show how the reflector, lamp and diffractor design all work together to produce the desired beam profile.
There we go. Everything buttoned back up and tested. Beam alignment was checked just in case anything had moved, which it hadn't.
 Dog Guard De-Bodging.
Some considerable time ago I needed to take the (then singular, now there are two of them) dog out on my own, so needed a way of keeping him where he belonged in the back of the van...This resulted in me grabbing a cheap and nasty dog guard that I'd discarded long ago from the scrap pile and wedging it in the space behind the seats. Ugly as sin, but it worked.
There were a few drawbacks though...Not least the fact that it rocked backwards and forwards every time you accelerated or braked, it rattled incessantly and made it a royal pain to try to get between the cab and living area. Today I decided to address a few of these issues. The dogs aren't going anywhere...so the dog guard needs to stay...and I'm not really likely to find a bespoke solution at a reasonable price that's going to fit a nearly 30 year old camper...so let's adapt what we've got.
A bit of thinking, a bit of realignment and a quick raid of the plumbing fittings box yielded the necessary hardware and we pretty quickly got things sorted out.
One of the main differences now is that there is a distinct "stowed" and "deployed" position for things.
Stowed, allowing relatively unhindered access between the front and rear of the van. You still need to step over it, but it's a much more sensible height.
Deployed, keeping any wandering dogs from straying into the cab. Not really too much of an issue these days as they know where they're meant to be, but it's nice to know.
No this wouldn't do a thing to keep some dogs in there - but ours are both largish and know where they're meant to be, so it's a visual deterrent as much as anything. We do hope that one day we might be able to employ harnesses, but that's still a ways off as they *really* don't like them...and trying to restrain a husky who doesn't want to be is an act in futility.
Both of the uprights need to have some rubber or similar caps fitted so I don't take my eye out the first time I fall over a dog, and I'll probably trim the one on the nearside down a bit. The offside one can stay at the current height though as it's where I usually have a stash of bags for shopping (which I remember maybe 1 time in 10 to actually take into the shop with me) and similar things left hanging.
Will be handy to help prevent the ongoing problem we have of pillows disappearing into the cab from the bed too, which I've found to be a recurring issue for me.
Haven't had a chance to actually go for a test drive yet, but there's no signs of buzzes or rattles at idle, which is a good start at least.
I'd like to switch to a sliding gate arrangement at some point, though I'm not sure if I'll ever get enough time to sufficiently engineer that...especially as it would need to be rattle free given my hate of all things which rattle! Obviously a coat of paint wouldn't go amiss either...