Self Leveling Suspension: Replacing NOT Repairing: 1982 300TD

We bought Scarlet after a tornado smashed a few body panels and made her ugly but still serviciable for basic transportation. She goes down the road just fine and is getting ready to have her 300K celebration in the next
month. The rear self leveling suspension was shot when we bought it and we replaced everything, doing the work ourselves. Yes, everything. The parts total for that was almost as much as we paid for the car, and by the time the entire AC system was replaced as well, more money was in parts than the purchase. Other than some oil leaks, we were happy with our bargain, and I had something to haul gardening stuff and humane society animals in that was reliable but not too foo foo to get dirty.
Scroll forward 7 years and only 30K more miles. The rear self leveling suspension is now becoming a problem again. 30K miles. Both of the $300 shocks are leaking again. Both. Everyone we've talked to is astounded. We're disappointed in the cost/benefit ratio of the whole system and looking to replace it with something more conventional. I've searched the Mercedes newsgroups and bulletin boards and have come across only a few references to this being attempted. Does anyone know of any *real* information on this being done? Hubby is a machinist and has available lathe, mill, welder, and more tools than is sanely needed by a private individual. If this can be done, he can do it.
So, can this be done? What might the consequences of such a changeover entail 20K down the road? That's as far in the future as we're looking. Old Scarlet is not a restoraton candidate. She has too many warts. She's gonna go until she can't go anymore and then she'll be humanely euthanized and become an organ donor. I don't want to drop another $900 in a system that's failed in that short a period of miles.
Suggestions? Comments? Commiserations?
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You can eliminate the hydropneumatic portion... which will leave you without leveling...
You can put in Bilstein Shock absorber in place of it... for $80 a pop... since your car is that old... I would definitely change the spring also... which are $30 a pop. That way, you don't have to worry about excessive sagging. For the rear spring... look for variable spring rates... that stiffen up with load so the rear end won't go down.
All this for the price of one hydro shock. If you do want to go another hydro setup... please change the springs... I suspect that hydro is trying to compensate so much of weak spring... that is why it broke within so short of a time.
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I have the same problem with an 87 300TD. Two years ago I had an independent mechanic replace both rear hydropneumatic shocks. The system now has a leak and I suspect I'm going to be told they need replacement again. The car is somewhat "tired" with rust and bad paint but runs well. I'm not looking favorably at laying out another $1500 to put in new hydro shocks. I too am considering going to conventional Bilsteins, just to save the "daily driver" from the graveyard.

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I don't specifically know how the sls works on this model, but am assuming it's similar to what's on my car. If that's a bad assumption, I hope someone will correct me.
On the sls that I'm familiar with, the hydropneumatic shocks are meant to do a lot of the work of traditional springs, so if you remove the sls, the springs MUST be changed as well, to a much beefier spring. But all in all, it's not supposed to be that big of a job - new shocks, new springs, remove the pump and block off the mounting point with a plate. After that it's mostly a matter of how much of the old system you want to remove since it's just sitting there not doing anything anymore (hydraulic lines, reservoir, etc.).
Bill Balmer 1986 190E 2.3-16
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Has anyone come up with a suggestion as to what springs to replace the standard ones on a w124 wagon to eliminate the hydraulic system?
Mine have been shot for a couple years now but that is probably only about 1500 miles in driving. I just have a really hard time justifying the cost of replacing the system when the car otherwise is pretty marginal. Both water pumps are on the verge of failure and both front fenders are crunched and one valve seat is apparently bad leaking oil into the cylinder and causing a lot of smoke on starting. The list goes on. I really like this car but like I said it's hard to justify putting much money into it.
Mike

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