Steve Gets Sick

Off to the mechanics we went with a sick sounding Steve. A quick drive round the block confirmed what I had feared, the dual mass fly-wheel (an expensive part between the engine and the clutch) probably needed replacing. So the van was to go back on the Monday so they could remove the gearbox and have a look. I arrived Monday first thing (10.30am for chilean mechanics) and I was the first there, yes that was before any mechanics! It was not long before there were three or four other Mercedes Sprinters and their drivers also waiting, at least this did seem to be the best place to get a Sprinter fixed. Once Mauricio arrived at about 1pm he said it would be the next day before they would be able to take a look, this became Wednesday. On the Wednesday there was more bad news as Mauricio announced that he was quite worried about the engine as it was making an unfriendly noise characteristic of badly worn crankshaft carrier bearings. This was a bit of a shock as it could mean a full engine rebuild and if not done it could mean a piston connecting rod through the side of the engine. However we agreed that they would fix the fly-wheel first then we would have another listen to the engine after that. It was Thursday before they finally got the gearbox out, it turned out the DMF rattling around had damaged the clutch as well. So off I went to get the required parts from the Mercedes dealership as the mechanics worked on a labour only basis. Carrying a new clutch assembly and DMF around town and on the Metro is pretty hard work, but the parts were delivered and they could rebuild Steve. He was ready on the Friday and Mauricio said I should have a listen to the engine and decide what to do about that problem. I turned the key and without the other noise from the flywheel the engine sounded pretty bad, there was no choice but to get the engine inspected internally. I took the van away so we could go for a trip climbing as they could not start the work till the Monday.

Monday came and went as did Tuesday, everyday Mauricio said Mañana. Eventually Steve went in one week later even then nothing much happened until the end of that week despite regular calls and visits. It seemed the regulars got priority… At least there was plenty of climbing to be done in Cajon Del Maipo!

Eventually they had the engine out and the carrier bearings removed, they were totalled. It appeared this had been caused because the previous owner had fitted a non Mercedes oil filter, which, combined with a missing o-ring on the oil pump had caused low oil pressure in the engine. The head needed to come off and pistons come out so they could be inspected. The number 4 piston and cylinder were also damaged. This meant  the cylinders and crankshaft needed reconditioning and the engine rebuilt with new wearparts and seals. At least the mechanics were good and honest even if not terribly time conscious!

After many more phone calls and visits nothing much had happened for a further week. This came to a head somewhat when I found Alfredo, the mechanic supposed to be building my engine, asleep one day then playing patience on the computer the next! I managed to count to ten…. and then asked if I could help with the work. Alfredo agreed so I was to turn up to work on the Monday for my new job as an apprentice mechanic!

I arrived on the Monday to find all the pistons in the block, progress at last! After some false starts I got my instructions…. wash all the engine parts in the engine wash. My day was spent washing and scrubbing away and lending the odd hand to mount engine parts. By the end of day one we had a mostly built engine.

Alfredo (left) and Mauricio (right) with a mostly built engine.
Alfredo (left) and Mauricio (right) with a mostly built engine.

It took the rest of the week to finish building the engine and get it mounted back in Steve as we kept finding little modifications the previous owner had made so there were a few trips out to pick up parts. However by the Friday the engine was running back in Steve. There were some other jobs to complete on the van to get him ready for the trip, but by the Saturday we were done and I was driving a way in a fixed and much better sounding Steve.

At last our travels could begin!

One thought on “Steve Gets Sick”

  1. Just read your last three posts. Crikey! Good job you’ve got plenty of time on your hands. Sorry am shit at staying in touch at mo. Children taking up lots of time!

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