380SL - when the timing chain breaks?

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You can pull the engine or drop the subframe to pull the pan in the car.
Parts about 1,000, labor about 20-25 hours depending on what else is being done at the same time. AC conversion not a time factor. Bill Ditmire Ditmire Motorworks,Inc. 425 White Horse Pike Absecon,NJ 08201 http://www.ditmire.com 609-641-3392
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that could not have been a more trollish post.
Ptolemy wrote:

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Troll from www.dictionary.com "Trolling aims to elicit an emotional reaction from those with a hair-trigger on the reply key".
No, that is *not* what I was trying to do -- I was seeking to learn the truth from experts on this newsgroup who are more familar about this subject than I am. There is a lot of knowledge here and some of it is opposing and I was trying to discern what to do.

for
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It seems trollish to me, too, in the sense that the OP goes on and on and on, seeking to keep his post alive.
If memory serves, Ptolemy was an ancient astronomer who believed the universe revolved around himself, and there is certainly a flavor of that here.
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--------------------------------
- When the timing chain breaks, your whole life flashes in front of your eyes. Loud bang, engine stops immediately, possible crack or hole in valve cover. Thousands of dollars to fix.
- There is a very distinctive chain slap noise if the tensioner is bad or the chain is stretched/worn excessively. It is different than lifter tick and may be present only at startup. The flopping around of the chain can cause it to jump a tooth on the sprocket or break a guide rail, then the interesting things happen. I believe the suggested replacement interval is 40K miles, 100K for the double row chain. As the chain wears, valve timing becomes less accurate. Lack of the chain slap noise does NOT mean you are safe with a single row chain.
- The chain, sprockets, and guide rails are metal, rail covers are plastic. A new single row chain can be had for $70 (but not at a dealer), and can be replaced by one person in a few hours, removing sparkplugs, fan, and RH valve cover only. An extra set of hands makes it a LOT easier. The idea is to not lose valve timing as you pull one chain out and feed the new in while turning the engine by hand. Replace the tensioner at the same time as cheap insurance.
- Some early 380 SLs had the conversion done at dealers, in a sort of stealth recall. If you have long skinny fingers you may be able to feel if the conversion has been done through the oil filler hole in the valve cover. Otherwise, use a dental-type mirror or pull the valve cover. You don't say what year you have, but you may be late enough to have a factory install. All the parts (chain, rails, gaskets and seals, sprockets, tensioner, etc.) for the conversion can be had in a kit for $700-$800 and the job is one long day or short weekend depending on what tools you need to run out to get and general skill level. Not difficult. Do be careful, as the block is alloy and it is easy to strip threads.
- Do the conversion, life is too short.
Mike "Silverbird" '82 380 SL 161K --------------------------------
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Heck, if Mercedes will do it for free, I'd like my 380SL with 37k miles done.
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Here is what mercedes told me about the single timing chain a few years ago:
MERCEDES STATEMENT START: "...all we are saying is that it is impossible to predict timing chain failure. There are too many vairables (age, mileage, usage, driving conditions, etc.), and because of this we do not provide a listing, or recommended mileage for replacement. We now only provide a double-rolling chain because we used it on the new 6 and 8 cylinder engines after 1985. Because it is retrofittable for the previous engines, why supply both? It is simply an evolution of parts. We don't feel the single rolling chain is a "time bomb", it was a very effective design, and yes many have lasted (according to owner reports) in excess of 200,000 miles."
MERCEDES STATEMENT END

chain
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Lawyers wrote this, not engineers. The single row chains were an unmitigated disaster and he's right about not being able to predict failure - they can go in as few as 30K miles.
They only used them on US spec 380's for a couple of years.
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Whats the chances of getting Mercedes to foot the bill to convert to dual chain timing?
wrote:

failure.
the
don't
design,
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I think we could probably figure that one out for ourselves. Given that Mercedes never officially acknowledged there was any thing wrong with the single row timing chains, and given that there was never an *official* recall for the 380 SL's so equipped, I doubt whether Mercedes would be too eager to establish a legal precedent by picking up the tab for anyone's conversion to a two row chain at this late date.
It might be possible to romance some enterprising attorney into championing your cause and filing a class action suit against Daimler Chrysler on behalf of all 380 SL owners who paid for their own conversion, but bear in mind that Jerkin Shrimp has lawyers too - lots of 'em. Personally, I think you might be better advised to fork over the $3K (or so) required for the conversion to your favorite independent, and sleep soundly knowing you did your share to help get our sagging economy back on its feet again. They're basically good long-lived cars, and sooner or later you'll have owned it long enough to see things swing back around your way again financially. Keep the faith...!!
Jerry Wolfram '78 450 SL - 211K miles
Ptolemy wrote:

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chain timing?<<
Wait... something's coming in... I see flames... wailing... gnashing of teeth... men with red skin, horns and tails... and now.. could that be a snowball?
Bill Ditmire Ditmire Motorworks,Inc. 425 White Horse Pike Absecon,NJ 08201 http://www.ditmire.com 609-641-3392
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These days? Zero.
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Today there was a 'celebration day' at the local Mercedes dealer. I received a post card to bring my Mercedes in for a free inspection - this was a general mailing for all Mercedes and was really an attempt to get customers in the showroom. In any case, the post card said a Mercedes Rep was going to be there. Well, I took my 1983 380SL and asked about the famous single row timing chain issue and said that it was mentioned all over the Net. The Mercedes rep said that is was not a concern and not to be worried. Just keep the oil changed regularly and consider the single timing chain a 'maintence item' and at 75,000 miles just replace the chain. He said that it was mileage that is the issue not that my SL was 21 years old and 37,000 miles.
So, I got his card and told that all is OK. At the rate I drive my SL, it will be 40 years old before it needs the timing chain replaced.
Evidentually, there are some high mileage SL's out there with the single timing chain. Perhaps this issue about the single row timing chain is overblown. With this confidence that the Mercedes rep has given me, if it does fail, I will have to raise a ruckus and see what happens. Most likely with my luck, I'll just have to pay for the cost of a new engine. BTW, what would a replacement engine cost me?

chain
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Change it to a double row chain now, he lied or honestly did not know. Or you can just wait until it breaks and buy a new engine for about $5,000 US :-)
BTW, driving the car is better for it than leaving it sitting for long periods.
Ptolemy wrote:

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Maybe you can buy a used or "rebuilt" engine for $5,000, but a new one might set you back more like $12,000.
Bill Ditmire Ditmire Motorworks,Inc. 425 White Horse Pike Absecon,NJ 08201 http://www.ditmire.com 609-641-3392
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So what do people ususally do - is the car even worth putting in a new engine? Is it worth more as spare parts than fixing?
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Bill Ditmire) wrote in message

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The best bang for the buck is to find a good used 380 engine that tests (when hot!) with good compression AND already has a dual row chain. But you want to look for a sedan engine, when you say "SL" people see dollar signs.

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keep the oil changed regularly and consider the single timing chain a 'maintence item' and at 75,000 miles just replace the chain. <<
The rep's lie might be the biggest blooper since WMD in Iraq. Many of these chains failed while the cars were still in warranty!
Bill Ditmire Ditmire Motorworks,Inc. 425 White Horse Pike Absecon,NJ 08201 http://www.ditmire.com 609-641-3392
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Is there any data on the reliability of the single timing chain? How about reliability of the single timing chain versus the dual timing chain? What happens if one of the chains in a dual chain engine breaks or jumps off its guides?
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Bill Ditmire) wrote in message

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reliability of the single timing chain versus the dual timing chain? What happens if one of the chains in a dual chain engine breaks or jumps off its guides?<<
The single row chain is unreliable even when new. It was tried on a single-cam engine back in the 1960's (the 180.954 used in model 230 and 230S) and they all broke. So they went back to duplex chains until the 1981-1983 380 engines for the US market only. And SURPRISE- the chain too thin to turn one cam, doesn't do any better trying to turn two!
In the 380SL, the single chain can skip or even break, pretty much unprovoked. With duplex chains, failure is usually initiated by a guide reil breaking and slipping between chain and gears. The result is the same- usually four bent valves in one head. Rebuild the head or better, both heads, replace chain, gears and rails, new tensioner, ghood to go for another 100,000 miles. Check condition of chain, tensioner and rails every 30k or so (major services or tuneups).
Bill Ditmire Ditmire Motorworks,Inc. 425 White Horse Pike Absecon,NJ 08201 http://www.ditmire.com 609-641-3392
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