Some tips and tricks for convertible top cylinder rebuilds - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 05-01-2012
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Some tips and tricks for convertible top cylinder rebuilds

*9:35 PM 5/1 - sorry for the late update. When I said it was going to rain, I wasn't expecting tornados and power outages... I have some pics I'll try to update this week. I did update the specifics however, so I hope that helps.

I've heard a lot of people complaining about this or that, saying you can't do that or you have to do this.... quite frankly, I found it much easier than I ever imagined, and I thought I'd answer a few solutions to the hiccups I couldnt find elsewhere on the board or in the directions:

Special Tools needed:
-The Torx in the doorway is a T9. I dont know anyone who owns a T9 so I had to buy it. $2.99 for a T5-T9 from Harbor Freight. The other two Torx sizes you need are T20 for the interior pieces and T30 for the metal exterior brackets.
-You only need two drill bits, one as a primer/for the cotter pin, and one as the as the main bit. I used a 1/8" primer and a 3/16" main bit
Small funnel to fill the reservoir
-4 cotter pins smaller than 1/8", but not too tiny (just a hair under 1/8" preferred
-pick
-Tiny screw
-Metric ratchet set (standard sizes)
-Metric Allen Wrench set (standard sizes)
-Drill
-Small Flathead screwdriver narrowe than 3/16" head
-medium to large screwdriver
-Medium size phillips head screwdriver.
-Needle Nose Pliers
-Bench mounted Vice
-Towels

How to remove the switch for the top without breaking the switch:
there are two pins, and just enough space in between then for a flat head screwdriver. Stick the flat head screw driver between them and pry it all out at once. This is much easier with the top DOWN.


Trunk Cylinder:
ITs not tough to rebuild, and it does hold if you rebuild it. Just using a small cotter pin didn't cut it for me, and I couldnt find a grade 8 cotterpin, so I just used a much larger cotter pin and drilled holes diagonally to accomodate it (from one hole to the one next to it.


Rebuild order:
I found it easiest to do the front in one sitting, the 2 top cylinders in one sitting, and the trunk cylinders in one sitting. When I rebuilt each type of cylinder (top, or trunk), I just pulled out one at a time and reinstalled it right afterwards, then moved on to the next one.


Rebuild the locking cylinder in place:
Rebuild the locking cylinder without taking it out. Its pretty simple and saves you a lot of complexity pulling wires. For this I did brace the top, but since your working on the locking cylinder you don't have to follow the guides instructions of bracing it "forward" (towards the front) which gives you a lot more room to work. It also gives you more flexibility on what to use for a brace- I just used a swiffer in the trunk.


How to remove the trunk cylinder seals:
Once you drill out the holes and get out the plug, instead of "breaking up" the seal like the instructions recommend, get a thin screw and drive it into the outer edge of the seal... Then just pull the seal right out! Much easier, and less likely to cause damage!


Don't waste your time trying to brace the top for the roof cylinders:
I never saw a need to brace the top, and from all the descriptions of having trouble unscrewing stuff and the such is just complicated by the awkward top position. Put the top all the way down. Unscrew the screws for the support pieces and take out the passenger side switch. slip out the (cant think of the right name for it) locking pieces for the pin, but leave the pins there. Now close the top all the way up. Unlock the rear pin and pull both pins out, and pull the cylinders out.


Drivability:
I didn't see doing anything that kept the car inoperable for more than 10 minutes when you don't worry about bracing the top. In fact, I did it during thunderstorms (just look at the cincinnati weather today and yesterday) and it wasn't a big deal.

Total time requirements if you were to do it all at one sitting?
4-5 hours not including tearing out the trunk panels and replacing them, plus more time taking breaks, hemming and hawing, and singing along to your radio.


Plastic pieces behind the seats to remove the roll bar surround:
These look like they snap off, but actually screw off. You should be able to use your fingers to get them off. If not, you can use a larger c clip pliers in the two little holds that are there. If all else fails, it is plastic so you can pull it off (takes a lot of force).



Opinion on the "rebuild it" vs "send it away"?
The send it away ones are probably better. They look like it atleast. However, this was a much easier job than I thought it would be, and next time I bet I could do it in 3-4 hours max. Most the hard work is done the first time, so if there is a next time it should be a quick job. More importantly however, in all my searching, I haven't found anyone who rebuilt it themself and it failed.

With that being said, sending away is probably better, but I dont know if its worth the hassle. When you do it one at a time you don't have to remember where they all go or document things so well... but then again I'm only planning on keeping this car a few years. If your thinking of keeping it for life or paying someone else to rebuild it, might as well send it away because its only an extra $240 + shipping.


How to remember which tube goes where?
If you do it one at a time, you only need to differentiate between two at a time- Therefore I just wrapped all the tubes in the bundle closest to the outside of the car (Theres 4 tubes in that outer bank) with a small piece of duct tape.


Most helpful free guides:

How to rebuild the specific cylinders (this is priceless):
SLK Top Cylinder Rebuild Guide with Cut-Away Diagrams - Benzworld.org - Mercedes-Benz Discussion Forum

How to remove front ram (but dont remove it):
Step BY Step Instructions to Check and Replace Roof LOCKING RAM - Benzworld.org - Mercedes-Benz Discussion Forum

General guide (Cant vouch for them though because I just found this AFTER I redid the top:
http://www.benzworld.org/forums/r170-slk-class/1316717-vario-roof-main-hydraulic-cylinder-removal.html

Top Hydraulics removal guide (useless for top cylinders, but I looked at it) http://www.tophydraulicsinc.com/R170...%20Removal.pdf



Oh yeah, and don't leave your bottle of fluid just hanging out without a cap on it. You'll probably spill it like I did and have to clean up your garage floor and go buy more.


Theres my thoughts to hopefully help some others with top cylinder rebuilds take it for what its worth!

Last edited by Arachnyd; 05-02-2012 at 07:05 AM.
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#2 Old 05-01-2012
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nice! moving to r170 diy section and sticky


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#3 Old 05-01-2012
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Did I accidently put it in the general section? Sorry about that- Thanks for moving it for me though, and thanks for making it a sticky. Hopefully others find it helpful.
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#4 Old 09-24-2012
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Arachnyo I live in Cincinnati I am new to this board I need help I just purchased a 2000 slk230 & my roof won't go down I have anumber of car questions for you I'd like to get your phone # or I can give you mine I don't know what the rules are on this board here is my email [email protected]
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#5 Old 09-24-2012
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I say ask your questions here so we can all learn from them.

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#6 Old 09-25-2012
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Originally Posted by jimlabarbara View Post
Arachnyo I live in Cincinnati I am new to this board I need help I just purchased a 2000 slk230 & my roof won't go down I have anumber of car questions for you I'd like to get your phone # or I can give you mine I don't know what the rules are on this board here is my email [email protected]
I dont mind contacting you directly, but sokoloff is right. I normally learn a lot from reading other people's questions on these forums, so if you ask them right here I can help you out and others can learn from it?
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#7 Old 09-26-2012
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My questions are too basic

Thank you for responding & i agree with Sokoloff. I posted a thread about my window switch not working--I thought maybe it's a fuse---no replys. That tells me it was a dumb question. However,if you are in Cinti & you've rebuilt the hydraulic system --that would be enough for me to attempt some do it yourself fixes or if you were interested I would pay you to rebuild them. I bought my SLK230 less than 3 weeks ago the 3rd day the check engine light went on & now the top won't go down---lots of little problems. Since I got the title I've put less than 200 miles on my car. I've stopped by the MB place around the corner from my house several times. I bought the car out of state but the seller has agreed to look at the major problems & try to fix them. He's in the business. I'm hoping he will take care of them. It is a long story. A.... I worked on the radio here for more than 40 yrs--i took a chance that you & I have met along the way.
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#8 Old 09-27-2012
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Originally Posted by jimlabarbara View Post
Thank you for responding & i agree with Sokoloff. I posted a thread about my window switch not working--I thought maybe it's a fuse---no replys. That tells me it was a dumb question. However,if you are in Cinti & you've rebuilt the hydraulic system --that would be enough for me to attempt some do it yourself fixes or if you were interested I would pay you to rebuild them. I bought my SLK230 less than 3 weeks ago the 3rd day the check engine light went on & now the top won't go down---lots of little problems. Since I got the title I've put less than 200 miles on my car. I've stopped by the MB place around the corner from my house several times. I bought the car out of state but the seller has agreed to look at the major problems & try to fix them. He's in the business. I'm hoping he will take care of them. It is a long story. A.... I worked on the radio here for more than 40 yrs--i took a chance that you & I have met along the way.
Probably not a dumb question... probably just no one knew the answer! haha. I've asked some pretty dumb questions on here and no ones held it against me

Its pretty easy to fix... just time consuming, and I bet this forum will be able to help you with most of them. First step is diagnosis with each of your problems- AKA whats the real cause of the problem your having.

With the CEL, head over to autozone and get them to check it for free.

With the hydraulic roof system, was it working when you bought the car? Is the pump running in the back right corner? If you look at the pump (remove the cover on it), does it have fluid all the way up to the line? If its low fluid, fill it up. If theres no fluid, trying filling it a little bit and then see if it works or if there are visible leaks, then you probably want to go through the cylinder rebuild process.

Lets start there and then I'll do what I can to help you along the way.
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#9 Old 09-28-2012
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Dumb question answered

Archnyd---problems resolved for today. The man I bought the car from three weeks ago fixed them. He has a Foreign car repair business. Cylinder behind the drivers seat fixed.
Switch for mirrors works--duh! I was doing it wrong.
Check engine light-- he did diagnostic test-he thought it was a loose gas cap.
On my way to his shop (hr & a half drive) my gas gauge had a light flashing like crazy. I just filled the tank earlier but I put in two gallons to top it & the light stopped flashing. he thought it had something to do with a loose gas cap. After he fixed everything on the way home I filled the tank--45 min later as I'm pulling into my driveway the gas light starts flashing. I took the cap off put it back on & the light stopped flashing. I'm going to do a search on this topic but do I need a new cap?
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jim, sometimes the seal around the cap gets dried out and needs lubricating or replacing


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#11 Old 10-01-2012
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Originally Posted by jimlabarbara View Post
Archnyd---problems resolved for today. The man I bought the car from three weeks ago fixed them. He has a Foreign car repair business. Cylinder behind the drivers seat fixed.
Switch for mirrors works--duh! I was doing it wrong.
Check engine light-- he did diagnostic test-he thought it was a loose gas cap.
On my way to his shop (hr & a half drive) my gas gauge had a light flashing like crazy. I just filled the tank earlier but I put in two gallons to top it & the light stopped flashing. he thought it had something to do with a loose gas cap. After he fixed everything on the way home I filled the tank--45 min later as I'm pulling into my driveway the gas light starts flashing. I took the cap off put it back on & the light stopped flashing. I'm going to do a search on this topic but do I need a new cap?
Glad to see you got them resolved!
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#12 Old 01-04-2013
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I repaired my top locking cylinder 2 weeks ago and decided that I'd post some pictures of the lines, etc. So we have it on our forum and people have better idea what they need to do.

Here are my signs of the leak:


















Here's a picture of the pin you need to remove. There are two of them:


Please Note that one is short and the other one is long:






Here's how I got my retention ring out. This thing comes off fairly easy but to put it back... I spent around 15-20 minutes to put it back
Notice that before performing the procedure of drilling I released the pressure from the system, pushed the cylinder rod all way back and applied some electric tape around it. I did that in order not to scratch the cylinder and if you do scratch the top don't worry too mush since if the cylinder rod is pushed all the way in, the rest of it doesn't come in contact with the rubber seal


Here's what you get:


And finally, here's the culprit!!


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#13 Old 01-05-2013
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Nice work Jayson. So did you only do your locking cylinder? My guess is that the O-rings on the other four cylinders will look similar. We're planning on a little tech session at my place next month to do the cylinders on a volunteer's car. Your photos and write up will help. How long did it take you start to finish to do that one cylinder? I assume if you were to do the others, your time would go down significantly since you know what to expect.

What was the drill size you used? I see that you taped the rod to prevent any drill damage, but if one is reasonably careful, is there much chance of nicking the rod?

I may pick your brain some more as the time gets nearer.
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#14 Old 01-05-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sokoloff View Post
Nice work Jayson. So did you only do your locking cylinder? My guess is that the O-rings on the other four cylinders will look similar. We're planning on a little tech session at my place next month to do the cylinders on a volunteer's car. Your photos and write up will help. How long did it take you start to finish to do that one cylinder? I assume if you were to do the others, your time would go down significantly since you know what to expect.

What was the drill size you used? I see that you taped the rod to prevent any drill damage, but if one is reasonably careful, is there much chance of nicking the rod?

I may pick your brain some more as the time gets nearer.
Thank you Sokoloff!
For now I only did the top locking cylinder. Including removal of the headliner and having all the tools handy I'd say give yourself an hour. This stupid retainer ring didn't want to go back in when I was assembling the cylinder .
The drill size is 1/8'. The trick that helped me a lot is releasing the pressure. Then I just pushed the rod all the way into the cylinder. This way even if you scratch the area which is left you shouldn't worry too much since it never goes into the cylinder anyways
I must say that the top locking cylinder is the easiest one!
I don't have vice to work on my other two top cylinders. They don't seem to be leaking for right now. Though it's really easy to get to them!
The guy who sells the manual says that the other two trunk cylinder leak very rare. And it's very hard to get to them, btw... So focus on the top 3.
I used the shockwave technologies guide
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mercedes-SLK...643a45&vxp=mtr
It's very helpful, though it could have been in color
Also when you drill, make sure you drill on the opposite side of the "thick wall" of the cylinder. Using screwdriver turn the retaining ring so it covers the area which will be drilled. This way when you drill through the cylinder you will hit the retaining ring and it will protect you from hitting the rod. The metal the cylinder is made of is very soft and you will feel when you hit the retaining ring .
If you have any question fell free to ask!
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Ok, thought it might be helpful. Some pictures of the top 2 roof cylinders.
P.S. I didn't have any vice so I left mine alone. But in case someone is interested...
The metal piece removed:


Rubber seal position:


The top cylinder:




The front locking pin:


The rear locking pin:


Cylinder view from the trunk when the top is up, but the trunk is still open. This way it's easier to remove the back pin.
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#16 Old 01-21-2013
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Jayson - got a few questions for you. A few of us are going to get together in a couple of weeks to have our own little tech session on rebuilding these cylinders, so there may be more questions coming your way. I've got the repair kit and Marty's instructions, but it helps to hear from someone who has just done the job.

1. Do you release the pressure in the system by just taking off the fill plug on the pump?
2. Did you have any dripping of hydraulic fluid while you were working on the cylinder, i.e. do I need to put a baggie or something over the open lines to prevent fluid from dripping on the interior?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sokoloff View Post
Jayson - got a few questions for you. A few of us are going to get together in a couple of weeks to have our own little tech session on rebuilding these cylinders, so there may be more questions coming your way. I've got the repair kit and Marty's instructions, but it helps to hear from someone who has just done the job.

1. Do you release the pressure in the system by just taking off the fill plug on the pump?
2. Did you have any dripping of hydraulic fluid while you were working on the cylinder, i.e. do I need to put a baggie or something over the open lines to prevent fluid from dripping on the interior?
It's Ok, Sokoloff! I totally understand!
1) The pressure release screw is of bronze color on the side of the pump. Leftmost if you look at the pump as you open the cover in the trunk. The tool for it is attached to the same covering panel =) Just start unscrewing it counter clockwise until it stops. It doesn't come out, it simply stops! You don't have to unscrew the fill plug other than for filling the fluid up.
Here, you can see it in the pic.


You can also check my post here https://www.slkworld.com/slk-r170-cla...tml#post354855
It will give you a better idea of the hydraulic pump.
2) Yes, I would suggest using towels!!! You need to wipe clean under the headliner and after you pop that locking cylinder open there will be some fluid in it =) so be careful not to splash our fellow members
Also be careful not bending or twisting the hydraulic lines! Do not disconnect them! The only place they disconnect is at the hydraulic pump. They're secured by plate and screws.
My roof was fully closed when I repaired the top locking cylinder. No need to open it as per Marty's instructions.
Release the pressure, measure, drill the hole, take the retaining ring out and just pop it open. Since the pressure is released it will be really easy!!!
Catch spills!
I think that was it =D
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#18 Old 04-08-2013
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What and where is the locking cylinder
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#19 Old 04-08-2013
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leapyfish is offline  
#20 Old 06-01-2013
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[QUOTE=JaysonM;358685]It's Ok, Sokoloff! I totally understand!
1) The pressure release screw is of bronze color on the side of the pump. Leftmost if you look at the pump as you open the cover in the trunk. The tool for it is attached to the same covering panel =) Just start unscrewing it counter clockwise until it stops. It doesn't come out, it simply stops! You don't have to unscrew the fill plug other than for filling the fluid up.
Here, you can see it in the pic.



Dear JaysonM, thank you for detailed explanation.
But i cant pull out piston! I pull it with all force - it stop and its all.
I unscrew bronze colore screw - counter clockwise -without success.
As i understand white plastic top cant piston go out? I remove c-ring before...
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