Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Tell us your ongoing tales and experiences with your French car here. Post pictures of your car here as well.

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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 31 Jul 2019, 12:26

I did consider that, but I know what my time availability is like these days and I can't really afford to have the van off the road while I faff around for weeks trying to find time to get around to rebuilding the cylinder. The fact that it seems to be far worse at one specific point in the pedal to travel does make me wonder if the bore is possibly scored or pitted which is the root cause of the problem.

The fluid in the system when I got the vehicle was truly disgusting (think very slightly cloudy black coffee) which probably hasn't helped anything. I did pull the slave cylinder apart and it turned out that the bore of what was badly pitted.

Apparently both rear brake cylinders had "failed" as well at the MOT - though as I never got the old parts back from the garage in spite of my both asking and leaving written instructions I never got to find whether that meant they had seized or were leaking. Still fizzing about that whole experience...I mean seriously...a garage that primarily deals with HGVs and PCVs shouldn't be doing stupid stuff like failing to tighten wheel bolts...

I'll do a post mortem on the cylinder that comes off, and if it is in a fit state to be rebuilt I may well do so...either keep it as a spare then or possibly throw it at eBay to recoup some of the cost.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by van ordinaire » 31 Jul 2019, 22:42

Last year (I think it was) I tried to buy wheel cylinder seals for the Cherokee while I was in the States, when it was pointed out to me the cylinders were only $9 (IIRR) - no brainer really. Mind you, they're Chinese, so will have to wait & see.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 01 Aug 2019, 00:55

Care package arrived for the van this morning.

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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.

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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).

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Gibbo2286 » 01 Aug 2019, 09:14

Parts counter people can be the best, my local Citroen man has been at it for as long as I remember and always has the answer, he's training up a new boy at the moment so I hope he will be as good.

Problem is that the dealer has taken on a Suzuki franchise as well now so my man is having to learn all the Suzuki systems as well.

Your Merc parts story reminded me of the old Rolls I bought in 1960, a 1928 20hp shooting brake, it needed a silencer so I called into the Brum Rolls dealer and asked what the chances were of getting one, "In stock sir." was the reply. but at £80 I had to leave it and rebuilt the old one from Castrol oil drums.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Hell Razor5543 » 01 Aug 2019, 09:33

I recall when I worked for a different service provider (who were taken over by a German company) we had intelligent stock codes and the ability to buy in parts to maintain a good client support system. Then Germany changed the stock codes (so that they were just a sequence of numbers, and when new items were added they just got the next number available), and purchasing had to be authorised from Germany. One day I had to apologise to TWO customers whose calls were over a week out of date. This was because Germany had to authorise UK buying a pair of 250GB SATA HDDs (I could have bought them from ebay for under £100 the pair, delivered within a day or two). Micromanaging from distance does not work, irritates people, and adds avoidable delays.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Michel » 01 Aug 2019, 10:22

In Greece, after my dad's Husky ate a lot of the interior of his Merc 230 (a 1981 model) about 10 years ago, Mercedes had all the interior trim, in the right colour, plus all the clips and fastenings in stock at their dealer. That alone is amazing enough, never mind it being in Greece, where (when I lived there at least) it was hard enough to get hold of anything!

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by van ordinaire » 01 Aug 2019, 22:21

So where do all the independent MB parts dealers there are, at least in Germany, fit in?

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 02 Aug 2019, 00:10

Nothing massive to report other that than with use TPA seems to just keep running better. Had her out this afternoon to run a few errands, rubbing shoulders with rush hour traffic. No bother. 

Have finally brought the PCV valves picked up last week inside for a clean up and fitting when I next get a chance. They're used examples but in a lot better state than the ones on the car currently.

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No idea whether I should expect this to make any difference to running, but it certainly can't hurt I figure.

Should rid me of a minor oil leak though - the seal on the lower one on the car is perished so the join "sweats" at the moment. The seal on this one is in good shape so this should put an end to that leak.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 04 Aug 2019, 19:02

That was pretty painless.

New clutch master cylinder is now fitted to the van.

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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.

Edit: Nearly forgot...need to have a poke around under the Activa tomorrow as the exhaust has started knocking loudly on something when the engine starts or stops today. To be fair, Jim was apologetic about how crusty the exhaust looked even when I got the car, and that was the best part of two years ago...so if it's finally actually starting to fail I've no complaints! Will be time to make a trip back over to Fusion Fabs if that's the case though as I'll be having them make me up a system in stainless.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by van ordinaire » 06 Aug 2019, 00:04

If it's anything like mine, it's the curious join in front of the tailbox. Bought it with a known fault for attention before MoT. With only a couple of weeks to go (& this was in November) grabbed tailbox when one came up at not to be missed price, only to find fitting it was not going to get done in the limited time available. Turned out it was just a matter of removing the AA's "get you home fix" (already a few months old) & a bit of welding, cost me about £10 with the M-o-T (IIRC).

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Michel » 06 Aug 2019, 07:51

van ordinaire wrote:
06 Aug 2019, 00:04
If it's anything like mine, it's the curious join in front of the tailbox.


Yes. That's exactly where my Activa exhaust failed too. I ordered one from Poland. I removed the tailbox , secured the pipe with wire and just drove around like that until the replacement arrived. Wasn't really any noisier due to the turbocharger being a good silencer anyway.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by van ordinaire » 06 Aug 2019, 20:52

Mine wasn't any quieter after it'd been fixed - except no rattle/clonk on starting.

Must be a Citroën thing, when the C15 shed its tailbox (just outside Kingkerswell - 5 bonus points for correct pronuctiation) I didn't do anything for months, including several trips back & forth between Devon & London, & it was only the pending MoT that prompted me to procure a new one (I think, from Poland). Always been tempted to replace it with 4' of straight pipe - the original "trombone" is absurdly convoluted - but the spare wheel gets in the way. :(

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 06 Aug 2019, 22:46

Yeah, when the tail box parted company with Gabriel, the only signs of it having happened were a godawful metallic buzz at about 2000 rpm and a more pronounced turbo whistle at idle. Think that was more a sign of how choked the old silencer was than anything else though.

Haven't had a chance to look at it yet as energy has been seriously lacking today. Hoping I might actually get something useful done tomorrow.

Oh...forgot that the new PCV hardware has now been fitted to the Invacar.

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Looking into the vapour separator now it's obvious that now she's had a few good runs that the moisture issue has been largely resolved. This was full of mayo like you'd expect on a water cooled engine with a stuffed head gasket when I first got it.

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I'd like to get the whole tower off the engine for a good scrub (it's brass, so should clean up nicely) though from what I've heard it's virtually unheard of for the join between the oil filler and the block to be oil tight on these engines...and mine is completely free of leaks from the oil filler so I'm not going to tempt fate by messing with it.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 12 Aug 2019, 00:14

Moderately irritating couple of days.

Really wanted to properly sort the throttle cable, I was astonished that my bodge had held a day, much less several weeks.

Now this sort of thing used to be simple...less so these days. Having been to the usual mainstream suspects along with three independent motor factors I only found that they've not kept stuff like cables on the reel "for years, mate." Already knew that was true for heater hose after I had a royal faff trying to find some a couple of years ago.

The thought occurred to try my usual bike shop, especially as the barrel type cable end was identical to the one used on the brake cables of the Sinclair C5.

Sadly they no longer stock stuff like that, rather than a reel of cable and a crimp tool to put the ends on,they now come pre-made in nice little cardboard packets. Sadly the longest one they have in stock is a brake cable for a tandem, at 2.75M. The cable which came off the car is roughly 3.5 metres long...so 2.75 isn't going to cut it.

Having struck out on everywhere locally to find cable am finally gave in and ordered it from the internet. From a seller proudly proclaiming to be UK based. Ordered 20 metres of cable and a shedload of ends to be soldered on. Twenty minutes later I received a text message from Royal Mail telling me there was a package on the way to me from China. Only one thing that could be...the throttle cable set I'd just bought.

Great, that'll be a couple of weeks then.

Really irks me that back when I started driving - even though I lived a 20 minute drive from civilisation - if I needed random stuff like that I could be home with it in my hand inside an hour. Yet now I've got to faff around waiting days or weeks for sundry items like this.

Sure there are plenty of independent motor factors who could still help, however I've yet to figure out where they are... especially as MK isn't exactly small firm friendly, it's mostly corporate chains round here. At least as far as I've generally found this far...only been here a few years so still tracking down useful places.

I'll let you know once I've actually got hold of a throttle cable and can get the car mobile again...annoying when what should have been a quick repair turns into a multi-day faff.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by RichardW » 12 Aug 2019, 08:58

Have at look at Carrot cycles in Lincoln, Zel. They've got all manner of cable bits, and can make up cables to suit. They're remaking the front brake cable for the Velo for me.

Just catching up on back issues of Practical classics and saw your Activa in it- nice one!