W114 Mercedes Benz – I Broke it Again

Yep, it’s happened again. I managed to once again take the Benz out of commission, within 3 miles of fixing it I might add. This necessitated a long walk on the coldest day we’d had that week and making my brother run over and help me again.

I know I’ve missed a few weeks but to be fair one was the election and we all know how that turned out. I think the last thing America needed at that point was another horribly written blog entry from yours truly. I skipped that week for that reason, among others, and the following week was just plain busy. Turns out home ownership is a good way to keep your wallet empty and you time filled. And here I was thinking cars were my biggest financial weakness. Anyhow, Winston has been running rough for a while now and I’ve tried a few different solutions. Those solutions where basically; Italian tune up, replace the coil, and mess with the timing.

The Italian tune up is my favorite method as it consists entirely of mashing the go pedal and otherwise beating the poor little bugger. On Winston what this usually accomplishes is burning off whatever excess oil has made it’s way into places it shouldn’t be. Sometimes it makes a big difference, sometimes it’s just fun, and sometimes it ends with me walking a few miles in the cold. I believe I went over the coil change in a previous post, it’s quick and easy to do. Messing with the timing is likewise quite easy as you only need to loosen a bolt and then turn the distributor. There isn’t much play on these cars though, so if that doesn’t solve the issue then it’s time to bring out the big guns.

This is where Pertronix comes in. I previously stated that Pertronix didn’t have a kit for my distributor model, I now stand corrected. I reached out to Pertronix and their support came through almost immediately with a short and sweet answer. I quote: “Justin, Use Ignitor #1867A and coil #40511.” So there you have it folks, my particular application is indeed supported by Pertronix. I hit up Amazon for the faster shipping and had both parts on their way over.


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The process of swapping the ignition system is pretty quick and painless. I did end up cutting the wires on my old system but I made sure to leave enough space so that I could always solder them back together if needed. Installing the new Pertronix kit meant swapping the old (new) coil out for Pertronix’s own FlameThrower coil, which runs a bit hotter for better ignition characteristics. A hotter spark usually means a cleaner burn resulting in better efficiency and more power. That’s the theory anyway.


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Next up is swapping out the bits that time your spark. This is also easy to do, I took plenty of pictures in case I ever have to switch back to the old system. As previously mentioned, I had to cut the wires to remove the optical unit itself. It looks like the ends that connect to the coil where crimped on after the wires were run in that kit. The Pertronix kit was easy enough to run as the ends came crimped already but were small enough to pass through the existing hole in the distributor casing. Pull all the old stuff out, put the new stuff in.


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You will want to be a bit careful when installing the plate that holds the magnetic ignition module in, the lock washer nearest the wires you run can shred those wires up if you aren’t paying attention when you install. The kit comes with a neat little plastic spacer that you wedge between the module and the magnetic rotor cover to make sure the distance is correct. The instructions for my application (3 ohm coil on 6 cylinder engine) said to leave off the resistor that the optical ignition system had been using. I went ahead and unbolted the ignition wires that ran into the resistor and then sent those to the positive side of the coil.

My only complaint is that the Pertronix kit comes with a grommet that doesn’t fit with my distributor casing. I ended up just kind of wedging it so that the wires were still protected from rubbing. Hopefully it doesn’t move around and cause issues in the future.


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After buttoning everything up, it was ready for some testing. I cranked the car over a few times and only managed to get it to half run. It kind of sounded like a 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine. I had to baby it slowly up in the RPM range and then hold it there to warm it up so it ran a little better. The timing changes I made with the previous coil installation weren’t jiving well with the Pertronix setup, so I advance the timing until it sounded a bit more like it should. I think the timing is currently as advanced as the Benz distributor allows. However, it was probably 40ish degrees out when I was doing this so once I get it out for next year there will be some adjustment needed.


It's supposed to leave that there right?

It’s supposed to leave that there right?


The main point is that it ran and actually sounded pretty good! Ali had already taken the Mazda to work and I figured a quick run to the nearby recycling center would do the Benz some good. I shut the hood, loaded it up, and set out. I made it maybe 3 miles.


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Along the way I smelled some smells that are kind of normal in older cars. You know, things like “maybe it’s on fire” or “should it really smell that much like oil?”. You know, normal stuff like that. This time however, I definitely smelled something electrical heating up. I figured it was probably just the new coil possibly running physically hotter. Since it was such a short drive, I determined I’d take a look when I got back. Then it stopped running. Mid-corner.

I called up Sam and let him know I’d appreciate a bit of rescuing. Sam was out to breakfast so I decided to go ahead and walk home. Before I could do so, one of the people living in a nearby house walked over and offered to help. We had a nice chat about the possibility of stuffing a 350 in it and I let him know I already had a plan to get it home. I still appreciate the guy stopping by, thanks guy!

Eventually Sam showed up and we headed down the road to tow the car back. We’re pretty much pros at this kind of thing by now and somehow I hadn’t received a ticket or warning. The Benz coasted to a stop right in front of a “No parking anytime” sign too.


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Everything made it back fine, a few odd stares from passerby notwithstanding. I may have neglected to mention another issue that cropped up while I was leaving that morning. There’s a bush location right in front the of the second garage door bay. This makes it a bit difficult to maneuver in and out of. It got the best of me that morning and though the Benz needed paint already, I’m not very happy about it.


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What’s a man to do right? Well, we had a truck and we had a tow rope. You can probably see where this is going.


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In the end, we took the bush back to the recycling center and found that most of the stuff I wanted to get rid of wasn’t accepted anyway. So what happened to the Benz this time? Well, it looks like the coil just plain fell over. Yes, like the last coil, it wasn’t secured in the designated coil spot. This caused it to fall over and try to weld itself to said designated spot. The ignition wire then heated up as there was a short and eventually those wires couldn’t take the heat. We verified this by running a wire straight from the battery to the coil in lieu of an ignition wire. When I turned it over the Benz fired right back up. Looks like I’ll be doing some wire tracing and replacing. It’s entirely my fault though, so I can’t complain too much.

Oh, and about the house… Since the last update I’ve removed a good deal of wallpaper, swapped out one of the toilets (life is too short for those tiny-ass toilets), and picked up some more tools to furnish my garage. Don’t worry, you’ll get an update on all that and more at some point as well. Until next time, try not to think about the impending Trump presidency!

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About Justin Marwitz

I’m the owner of this here site, and don’t you forget it!

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