So, I may have gone overboard... Complete Steering and Suspension Refresh- SLK32 - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

General Modifications R170 Details that make your car different

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#1 Old 05-14-2017
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So, I may have gone overboard... Complete Steering and Suspension Refresh- SLK32

[Mod Note:- Later photos have been replaced. See post 9 onwards. Myk]

As the title states, I may have gone a bit off the deep end:







This is the beginning of a project I've wanted to start for awhile now. My SLK32 is now 15 years old, and in my opinion, has more than earned a complete refresh of it's suspension and steering components, as most all of these parts are original, and as we know rubber does indeed fatigue and degrade and isn't always obviously bad. I have hand-picked the absolute best replacement parts I can find, as I'm not about to cut any corners in this. I want my beloved 32 to last forever, and this is all a part of it.

Be warned though, this is a very expensive affair in parts alone, so don't be surprised if you end up well over $1k, or even closer to $2k just in parts and specialty tools. I also will recommend RM European as an excellent source, they have pretty much all of this and at the best possible price. I will also replace all 4 tires, refinish all 4 wheels, and do a proper alignment at the end of this. Expensive affair indeed.

What I hope to do in this thread initially is to gather interest into what, if any, DIY writeups my fellow R170 owners would like to see that you have not so far. If there is enough interest, I hope to provide a detailed writeup for any of these components replacement. I will be tackling all of this by myself while on vacation in one big hit, but it will be a few weeks before I can start.

So... The list as pictured:

*Rear Suspension*
Lemforder Rear Support Arms- PN 29630 01, Qty 2
Lemforder Rear Camber Arms- PN 29631 01, Qty 2
Lemforder Rear Thrust Arms- PN 29629 01, Qty 2
Lemforder Rear Tie Rods (incl. hardware)- PN 10978 01, Qty 2
Lemforder Hardware Kits- PN 21685 01 Qty 6
Lemforder Rear Outer Control Arm Bushings- PN 34756 01, Qty 2
Lemforder Rear Inner Control Arm Bushings- PN 11021 01, Qty 2
Lemforder Forward Rear Subframe Mounts (incl. hardware)- PN 10979 01, Qty 1
Corteco Rearward Rear Subframe Mounts- PN 80000023, Qty 1
FAG Rear Wheel Bearing Kit (incl. hardware)- PN WB66754K, Qty 2

*Front Suspension*
Lemforder Lower Ball Joints- PN 12149 02, Qty 2
Lemforder Lower Control Arm Bushing Kit (incl. hardware)- PN 22755 01, Qty 2
Lemforder Idler Arm Repair Kit (incl. hardware)- PN 13501 01, Qty 1

*Engine/Trans Mounts*
Lemforder Engine Mounts- PN 25407 01, Qty 2
Lemforder Transmission Mount- PN 33875 01, Qty 1

*What isn't pictured because it's on the way*
Lemforder Complete Steering Linkage/Tie Rod Assembly- PN 21672 01, Qty 1 (UPS has actually lost the package on this one, so hopefully this gets sorted soon!)
Lemforder Upper Control Arms w/Ball Joints- PNs 21749 02 (left) 21750 01 (right), Qty 1 ea.
Mercedes-AMG OEM SLK32 Front Shock Absorbers- PN 1703200430, Qty 2
Mercedes-AMG OEM SLK32 Rear Shock Absorbers- PN 1703200231, Qty 2
Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 Plus Tires, Qty 4

*What has been completed already and is pertinent to the above*
SKF Front Wheel Bearing Kit- PN WKH1498, Qty 2
Stabilus Steering Damper- MB PN 1244630432, Qty 1

Hopefully I haven't forgotten anything. Feedback is very welcome, and is actually the purpose of this thread.

So, am I a madman?

Last edited by Avel Du; 09-16-2017 at 03:27 AM.
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#2 Old 05-14-2017
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No you are not

Props to you sir.
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#3 Old 05-15-2017
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So many parts!!!
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#4 Old 05-15-2017
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Mini update- UPS seems to have magically found the steering linkage, which was supposed to arrive 2 weeks ago. It supposedly will arrive tomorrow, so hopefully it hasn't been overly abused or drop-kicked too badly!

Thank you for the kind words, folks!
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#5 Old 05-16-2017
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This project looks very interesting.... Thanks for sharing.
I'll stay tuned... I may need to do the same to my '03 SLK 32 at some point.
Please let me know if I can be of help... I may take pictures of mine if you need to compare.
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#6 Old 05-16-2017
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Another update- UPS delivered the steering linkage today:





It wasn't damaged by them in any way, so all that Made in Germany goodness is intact! More to come as I receive new parts.
As always, thank you for everyone's encouragement and support!
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#7 Old 05-21-2017
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Transmission Mount

Along with performing my transmission service yesterday, I decided to go ahead and replace the transmission mount. This was pretty straightforward:

-Lift the vehicle and place on jack stands.
-Make sure to take note of how the mounting tabs are oriented! I also took a Sharpie and wrote 'rear' on mine so I could remember which way it came out.
-Unbolt the 2 bolts holding it to the crossmember.
-Using a jack and a piece of wood roughly the size of the transmission pan, slightly raise the transmission so that the bottom of the mount is off the crossmember.
-Remove the remaining 2 bolts from the mount.
-Remove the transmission mount.

New mount next to old mount:


As you can see from this picture, mine was due to be changed. It had various cracks in the rubber that were pretty hard to photograph, however I managed to get a decent one:


Installation is the reverse from removal. I will share a couple tips with you:

-Make sure to use Loctite on the bolts, and take care not to torque them down too hard. We are dealing with aluminum here, so if you manage to strip one out, you're in for a whole lot of headache.
-When threading the bolts in again, start with one of the transmission bolts, then thread in the 2 crossmember bolts, then lastly the other transmission bolt. Tighten the 2 transmission bolts first, lower the transmission, and then tighten the crossmember bolts. This mount can be tricky to line back up, so starting the bolts and then tightening them as I just outlined will save you a lot of struggling.

Well, that's it for this small update. Stay tuned for more!
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#8 Old 05-21-2017
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I just love it. Great detail. Thanks for sharing!
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#9 Old 05-29-2017
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Rear Thrust Arms, Support Arms, and Camber Struts

Ok, I admit it. It was my full intention to do install all of these new parts in one go. However, I cannot resist these shiny new parts as well as I thought I could!

So, on today's installment, we'll be replacing the rear thrust arms, support arms, and camber struts with shiny new Lemforder ones. I did install new hardware all around as well (also from Lemforder). Now, for a picture of the old stuff:




As you can see from up close, the bushings have had better days. One important thing to note: when you are checking ANY suspension component for wear, don't forget to check it when the suspension is under load! An unloaded suspension will hide many bad parts, and we want to make sure to catch them early!







These really aren't that difficult to install (just a bit tricky at times), and the only 'special' tool you'll need is an M12 ZXN (triple square) socket or bit. However, when installing the new arms, you must make sure to raise the suspension up to ride height. This will help with 2 things: the fasteners remove and install much easier, and they will be in the proper position when they are torqued down. Failure to raise the suspension when final torquing WILL cause your suspension to bind, along with premature bushing wear and other unpleasantries. All of these fasteners get torqued down to 70 N.m, or just a shade over 50 ft-lb.

Picture of the new arms (the clean ones... I'll be detailing the rest of the undercarriage, not to worry!). Support arm on left, camber strut on right:




Picture of thrust arm, you can see the new hardware on this as well:



That about wraps it up for this one! Stay tuned for more, and if you have any questions or feedback, please let me know!

PS: You may well be wondering why I didn't go ahead and install the tie rods I also have to complete this package. I haven't installed them yet, as removing them will directly affect the alignment, unlike the parts above (unless they're completely destroyed to begin with). I will install them when I do the steering linkage, as I only want to do an alignment once.
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Last edited by Avel Du; 09-16-2017 at 03:25 AM. Reason: Replacing PB photos
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#10 Old 05-29-2017
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#11 Old 05-29-2017
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Nice work !
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#12 Old 06-03-2017
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Bilstein B6 Shock Absorbers Install

Ok, time for another installment!

This is where I deviated from my original parts list, as I had planned on using a set of OEM AMG shocks... until I saw the price! The AMG shocks go for $175 a corner, and I couldn't justify paying that much just for shock absorbers, so I decided to go with Bilstein B6s. I did not go with B8s as I am not lowering this car, and the B8 shocks are about an inch shorter at full compression than the B6s (thanks to @9021Jae for that info!). I couldn't find much info on the B6 shocks being installed on an SLK32 (or any R170 really), so I decided to take a gamble, and it worked out well.

Part numbers for Bilstein B6: Front 24-024648. Rear 24-024655

I've decided to spare everyone the actually-installed-glory-pics, as those are all over the Internet . I did take old-vs-new comparison pictures though. Let's start with the rear shocks:



As you can see, there is no difference in length whether they are uncompressed or at full compression.

Now, the front shocks are where it gets a bit strange:



The B6 shock is slightly longer than the stock AMG shock when uncompressed, however when at full compression they are the same length, and that is the most important factor, as you don't want to bottom out your shock in the middle of it's natural travel.

I took measurements of the ride height before and after install, and after a test drive. After the test drive, the ride height was exactly the same as with the old shocks, so no concerns there. On the road, the ride feels firmer, but the car feels more stable. Harsh bumps are a bit more noticeable, and the cornering has much less body roll than before. They're way better than my 15 year old shocks, though.

Overall, I recommend these shocks to any SLK owner. They feel nice on the road, Bilstein has great quality, and they are much more affordable than the OEM shocks. Thank you to everyone reading, and stay tuned for more!
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Last edited by Avel Du; 09-16-2017 at 03:28 AM.
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#13 Old 06-04-2017
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Lemforder Outer LCA Bushing Install

Another installment this weekend!

Today I'm replacing the outer lower control arm bushings with some nice Lemforder units. The ones on my car were completely trashed, and in the case of the right rear one, clacking around like mad:



This is a tricky part to install (because of the reasons below). My process was to:
-Lift the rear of the vehicle and place on jackstands.
-Remove the wheel.
-Remove the brake caliper and hang it aside.
-Support the lower control arm, and remove the outer 22mm bolt.
-Lift the knuckle up and out of the LCA.
-Bend the brake backing plate a touch to gain clearance at this point.

Here's where I make a serious recommendation: buy (or borrow) the bushing tool! I have one that I cobbled together myself to avoid having to spend the $100+, but trust me, it's not worth doing it my way. You're going to be working in close quarters here with the webbing on the knuckle, and I -barely- got my tool to work in such a space. With this in mind, I won't give you pictures or details on my homebrew tool, as I don't recommend anyone trying it.

Now, having used the tool, you should have the old bushing out. Hopefully it doesn't look as bad as mine:





Install is the reverse of removal. Be very, very careful to not damage the rubber around the bushing during the installation (this is where my homebrew tool actually shines, as it didn't damage it at all), and also make completely sure it's not going in crooked. I found that cleaning up the knuckle with some emory cloth and using some wheel bearing grease will make the installation go very smoothly.

OK, that wraps this one up! As always- questions, comments, and constructive feedback are welcome. Stay tuned for more!
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Last edited by Avel Du; 09-16-2017 at 03:30 AM.
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#14 Old 06-11-2017
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Engine Mount Replacement, plus... issues?

Another update! I've gone ahead and replaced the engine mounts with a set of Lemforder mounts, which may or may not be a bad thing... read on to find out why! First off, the old mounts:



You can see some faint cracking on these, and it's hard to photograph:



The process for this is pretty simple:

-Lift vehicle and place on jack stands
-Remove lower splash shield
-Remove idler arm shield (one nut and one bolt, both 8mm)
-Loosen the 2 brackets holding the left side transmission line in place to allow slight movement of said line
-Remove lower engine mount bolts at crossmember (13mm IIRC)
-Using a jack and block of wood roughly the size of the oil pan, lift the engine a few inches to gain better access
-Remove the top engine mount bolts using the special 16mm tool (will be pictured below)
-Remove the engine mounts

Installation is the reverse of removal. WIS states the top mount bolts should be torqued to 55 N.m, and the lowers to 35 N.m.

Now, there are a couple issues I ran into doing this. The first one I'll mention is the 16mm engine mount tool I bought:





The trouble I ran into with this was that I wish it were just a bit longer, around 5-5 1/2". It's just a bit too short to be able to use it from up top, so I had to go in from the bottom. Also, the particular way it was bent was not helpful to bolt access from the bottom side- in fact, I fought with it more than I'd like to admit. I do recommend sourcing a tool, as it is a big help, but look for one that's hopefully a bit longer so one can use it from up top.

Now, the second issue I ran into is that there seems to be 2 different types of mounts out there to choose from, both listed under the same MB part number on aftermarket websites. There is the style I removed from the car, which has a part number of 2032410413:



There is also the different style, listed as a superseding replacement for the above on the online MB parts books- 2032411113, which are the ones I got from Lemforder (picture borrowed from the ZF Webcat):



The new mounts are a bit different- slightly taller, slightly larger in diameter, and I believe fluid filled. They are also a bit more 'pliable' than the old mounts, I believe this is to help smooth out engine vibration- which it does very well I might add. The engine stands a bit 'prouder' if you will in the engine compartment. They are very similar in design to the ones used in the SL55/SL65/E55 cars. Beautifully made pieces, by the way... almost a shame to bury them under the engine!

I went ahead and installed the new mounts despite the differences. I unfortunately can't recommend anyone else doing so, at least not until I put some miles on these and make sure there are no ill effects. There are none apparent to me at this time- it's dead smooth, not hitting the hood, no driveline vibrations, etc. For now however, I would recommend anyone else to look for the previous style of engine mount as a replacement.

Hopefully this wasn't a rash thing to do, and I am currently doing my best to find out why MB seems to recommend this different style over the previous ones. If anyone has information on this 2032410413 vs 2032411113 engine mount debacle I've come across, please let me know. It was my goal to be straightforward here, and I hope this will help someone now or in the future. Installing these different mounts is my risk, and my risk alone.

Anyway, that wraps up this one! As always, stay tuned for more! Feedback and comments are always welcome!
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Last edited by Avel Du; 09-16-2017 at 03:38 AM.
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#15 Old 06-12-2017
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Once again, I've decided to post an update! This time, however, there have been no new parts installed.

The purpose of this update is to give my overall thoughts/feelings on some of the parts I have already installed now that I've put some miles on each one, so that the information of this thread can be further enhanced with real-world road experience. So, from the top!

Lemforder Transmission mount- Installing this part helped get back some of that famous MB smoothness. You notice the biggest difference when you first put it into gear- with a worn mount, you're most likely used to a small jerk when shifting out of park. With the new mount, that's completely gone. It also feels smoother when shifting through the gears when driving. With the Lemforder mount being under $20, you can't really lose on this one.


Lemforder Rear Thrust Arms, Support Arms, and Camber Struts... Plus hardware- Now, here's something that's a touch more involved, and a bit more expensive. The bushings in all of these had seen better days, but there was no obvious tearing or breakage. Nonetheless, in the interest of being thorough, I replaced them anyway... and I'm very glad I did so. The effect of these is hard to describe, as it's not an obvious night-and-day difference. However, if you've been driving your vehicle for awhile, you'll notice it most definitely. The entire rear end of the car feels much better tied together- smoother over bumps and curves, and more stable than ever. This is one of the most driving-confidence improving things I've done so far. Replacing all of these arms can be a bit costly when using quality parts, but you'll feel a great deal of satisfaction having done so.

Bilstein B6 F+R Shock Absorbers- This is the one where I wasn't sure what to expect. I've heard mixed reviews all over the internet about Bilstein B6 and B8 shocks, and I'm sure you have too. Happily, in this case, everything turned out perfectly well. Overall, the B6 shocks have given the car a much more 'sporting' feel- you can read the road surface much better, feel every little imperfection... but all without the beat-you-silly harshness one would expect from other so-called 'sport stabilizers'. While they are a bit more firm (although any new shock will be initially), they are far from uncomfortable. Where these shocks truly shine is when cornering- there is now little-to-no body roll, and the car feels completely planted and stable throughout. What's more, at a price that's just a bit more than half of what an OEM set of shocks would cost, these have been a win in my book. If maximum ride comfort is what you desire over sport ability, I would also take a look at the B4 OEM style Bilsteins.

Lemforder Rear Outer LCA Bushings- This one is a tricky one to articulate, but these little beauties are known throughout the Benz world for causing a lot of undesirable trouble when they go bad. Most likely, when these wear out, you will not feel it through the suspension. I suspect this is because they are the most outboard component, so the rest of the suspension absorbs all of the looseness of the worn bushings. You will however notice increased wear on the inboard edge of the tire (very expensive problem here), and in extreme cases (like mine) hear a faint clunking noise over big bumps that's a bit hard to pin down. The easiest way to tell is to look at the rubber- if it's cracked or torn, it's time to replace them. This said, these are dense little pieces! They weigh quite a bit for their size, but after all, they do keep your wheels from suddenly folding upwards. After replacing these, I could only tell the slightest bit of difference in the overall feel of the vehicle- it felt slightly better tied together, but the biggest improvement was that the awful clunk had disappeared. My tires had also suffered a bit of inside wear because of these being bad, but I can now install new tires in complete confidence that they won't get chewed up in a hurry because of a silly little bushing. So, at under $20 each for quality Lemforder ones (don't cheap out on quality here!!), it's one of the biggest peace-of-mind bargains out there!

I hope I haven't rambled on too much here, but I did want to share a bit more feedback on each of these parts so one would know what to expect when replacing each of them. As always, if anyone has questions or comments, feel free to post them up and I'll answer to the best of my (limited ) ability. Thanks for reading along this far!
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#16 Old 09-15-2017
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Originally Posted by S/RConcepts View Post
Another installment this weekend!

Today I'm replacing the outer lower control arm bushings with some nice Lemforder units. The ones on my car were completely trashed, and in the case of the right rear one, clacking around like mad:



This is a tricky part to install (because of the reasons below). My process was to:
-Lift the rear of the vehicle and place on jackstands.
-Remove the wheel.
-Remove the brake caliper and hang it aside.
-Support the lower control arm, and remove the outer 22mm bolt.
-Lift the knuckle up and out of the LCA.
-Bend the brake backing plate a touch to gain clearance at this point.

Here's where I make a serious recommendation: buy (or borrow) the bushing tool! I have one that I cobbled together myself to avoid having to spend the $100+, but trust me, it's not worth doing it my way. You're going to be working in close quarters here with the webbing on the knuckle, and I -barely- got my tool to work in such a space. With this in mind, I won't give you pictures or details on my homebrew tool, as I don't recommend anyone trying it.

Now, having used the tool, you should have the old bushing out. Hopefully it doesn't look as bad as mine:





Install is the reverse of removal. Be very, very careful to not damage the rubber around the bushing during the installation (this is where my homebrew tool actually shines, as it didn't damage it at all), and also make completely sure it's not going in crooked. I found that cleaning up the knuckle with some emory cloth and using some wheel bearing grease will make the installation go very smoothly.

OK, that wraps this one up! As always- questions, comments, and constructive feedback are welcome. Stay tuned for more!
I am inspired! and, thanks to your advice to check these bushings for wear, am about to do the same repair on my '02 SLK 32. So far I haven't found the bushing tool you refer to. Do you have anything specific in mind for this. I was thinking I'd get a Bushing Driver Set but I'm not sure about the size needed. Since you made one yourself, do you remember the diameters needed to drive out the old bushing and drive in the new?
Thanks!
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#17 Old 09-15-2017
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Originally Posted by waggener View Post
I am inspired! and, thanks to your advice to check these bushings for wear, am about to do the same repair on my '02 SLK 32. So far I haven't found the bushing tool you refer to. Do you have anything specific in mind for this. I was thinking I'd get a Bushing Driver Set but I'm not sure about the size needed. Since you made one yourself, do you remember the diameters needed to drive out the old bushing and drive in the new?
Thanks!
Hello! The tool you're looking for is this one: https://www.amazon.com/Sir-Tools-Met...=sirm0085+tool That is also the least expensive price I can find for it. It's also sold by ZDMAK with the part number M0085, so perhaps if you visit their website and call them they may be able to give you a better deal.

As far as my homemade tool, it was actually made from a 1/2"carriage bolt that was 7" long, a couple nuts and washers, and a 1 1/2" pipe plug from the hardware store with a hole drilled in the middle. The pipe plug just happened to be the correct diameter for the bushing to fit into without the possibility of tearing the rubber boot when installing it. For removal, an 1 1/8" impact socket and a ball joint drift as a receiver cup worked perfectly.

All of this said, I still wholeheartedly recommend the proper tool, as the webbing on the backside of the spindle doesn't give as much clearance as I'd like to see.
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Pics #1- The Parts Motherlode

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Originally Posted by Idiot101 View Post
Hate the pictures are missing now. 🙁
Ask and you shall receive! I'll keep these all in the same order, but I cannot edit the original posts

So, in the first pics post: the pictures of all the parts from post # 1 and 6.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg slkparts1.jpg (79.8 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg slkparts2.jpg (82.8 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg slkparts3.jpg (76.7 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg slkparts4.jpg (70.3 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg slkparts5.jpg (43.1 KB, 5 views)
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Trans. Mount Pics

Pictures from the trans. mount install, post #7 .
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File Type: jpg transmount2.jpg (36.3 KB, 5 views)
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