!980 350se steering box adjustment

zx10rick

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Hi All, Im Rick, from across the pond, ireland, just bought my first classic merc, a 1980 350se 3.5L V8..Im delighted with it, I was wondering if any of you good people might be able to tell me if there is a way to adjust the steering box, Ive already had a look myself but cant see any way of doing it, im wondering if there is any way at all? Thanks in advance.

Rick
 

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If you are referring to excessive play , yes there is an adjustment screw at the front end of the box .

I have never done it , but I understand you loosen the screw to tighten up play .

Two things to be aware of -

about an inch or so of free play at the rim of the steering wheel is normal and correct on these systems


they do seem to wear somewhat around the straight ahead position ( where the steering tends to be most of the time ) and if you take the play out in the middle , the steering can seize up at full lock on either side .

If your 'box' is worn out , I'd imagine a W126 or a W123 one would possibly fit straight in - there is a yard near me in Glasgow with no fewer than three W126's in breaking just now ( a 300SE , 500SE and 500SEL ) , as well as a W124 260E , a W210 saloon and a CLK . I haven't seen a W116 in a breakers yard for three or four years now - although I think Dave Collins might have one or two breaking .
 

WG M-B

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As above. If you crack the lock nut then turn the allen screwout only quarter turn. Lock the nut back up and try it. If there is no improvement you mustn't keep adjusting!
 

MarkJunedd

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I remember doing this on my old e34 bmw because of play in the straight ahead position , took the play out but could hardly turn the wheel afterward !! Take your time and only make small adjustments each time until you get a happy medium. Quarter of a turn sounds a bit excessive to me going from experience.
 

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The other thing which is cheap and can transform the feel is to change the steering damper ( small shock absorber in the middle of the steering gear under the sump ) .
 

johnsco

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Agree with all the above.
If you have been accustomed to modern rack-and-pinion steering (which is more more precise), then getting into a car with a steering box can be quite alarming.
We had a 1981 380SE (Type 126) with very-much the same steering arrangement.
There was around an inch of steering wheel free-play.
At first, this was a bit disconcerting after years of rack-and-pinion steering.
We ran it for 8 years.
It never went any worse.
It was never subject to even an "advisory" at MOT time.

As said above ... If you do try to adjust, make only the smallest adjustments at a time and assess the effect.
 

khimani_mohiki

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It was never subject to even an "advisory" at MOT time.

I belive there are different criteria for rack and pinion and steering box type cars, witht the latter having much higher allowable play at the wheel, though the main reason being that steering box systems have a lot more joints in it (track rods, drag links, pitman arms etc)
 

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