1999 ML320 "AAV Montana" Build | OVERLAND BOUND COMMUNITY

1999 ML320 "AAV Montana" Build

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JasKolp

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This past weekend I went camping at Curtis Creak in the Pisgah National Forest in NC. It was my first time there and I learned a few things:

-I should upgrade my shocks and rear springs next year.
-My catalytic converter is making the weird noise I've sometimes been hearing when I hit a bump. It got really bad when I went up a mountain road to the Blue Ridge Parkway, but after I got back on road it quieted back down.
-I need to simplify my gear. Specifically downsize what I can, and get more storage bins for everything. I had less things floating around this time than the last time I went camping (thanks cargo net!), but it can be better.

I had a great time! and it has me thinking more about what I need to do to the Merc now that I've actually been on a camping trip with it. One of my friends who went tried out his 'beta test' of his tent for the back of his truck, and it turned out really well.

I don't know when I'll be able to get back to work on the Merc, since its getting towards the holiday season and one of my jobs doesn't pay for holidays we don't work (but otherwise would have) and money will be tight, but I'll still try to make progress.

Campsite.JPG Campsite2.JPG Merc_BlueRidge.JPG Sunlight.JPG
 
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ZRex

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Curtis creek is about 30 minutes from me! I would have come to visit, need an excuse to ride back down to 80 to the Parkway again!
 
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JasKolp

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Oh really? Sweet! I'll let you know when I'm heading to the area again! I'm hoping to do more camping trips to the NF's in NC next year. It'd be awesome to meet OB members in person.
 

ZRex

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The Parkway is my stomping grounds, most of the miles I've put on my bike have been between Mt Pisgah and Mt Mitchell. There are so many fantastic campgrounds in the area so absolutely hit me up when you get out and about up here!
 
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dos531

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Rowland Heights, CA
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Cool build! I have a 2000 ml320 for my daily driver. I considered building it out and did a bunch of research, but ultimately decided against it and bought the montero. Some 265/75/16 tires, a torsion bar crank, and some rear lift spacers and it should do pretty well on mild off road. You can get a decent amount of clearance, but watch the fuel tank, which hangs down pretty low. The catalytic converters on these are known to have the welds fail. Some of them were convered under recall, so check your vin with mercedes. Mine wasnt covered, but it still cracked in two so I had to weld it back together.
 

JasKolp

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Yeah, if I wasn't so adamant about doing the Lost World replica I probably would have picked something else like the Xterra. I found it was a happy coincidence that the ML320 can be good for mild off road trails with the tires and torsion bar crank.

It looks like all recalls on my ML were already done by the previous owner and there isn't any more open recalls on it. Oh well, the other cat isn't making any noise so I think I'll be okay for a few months when I'll have some more money to get it looked at, but I don't think I'll be taking it on any bumpy roads in the meantime in case something does happen.
 

dos531

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Yeah, if I wasn't so adamant about doing the Lost World replica I probably would have picked something else like the Xterra. I found it was a happy coincidence that the ML320 can be good for mild off road trails with the tires and torsion bar crank.

It looks like all recalls on my ML were already done by the previous owner and there isn't any more open recalls on it. Oh well, the other cat isn't making any noise so I think I'll be okay for a few months when I'll have some more money to get it looked at, but I don't think I'll be taking it on any bumpy roads in the meantime in case something does happen.
Get under and take a look at the cat and see where it's cracked. Mine was cracked on the bottom, and if I had just fixed it earlier I could have welded it up in place. Since I waited I had to completely remove the pipe, which is a bit of a pain.
 

JasKolp

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I don't see any cracks, I checked the whole pipe and felt around the areas I couldn't see and didn't find any. Its the one on the passenger side towards the rear of the pipe that's making the noise, the other one and the other pipe aren't making any noise and don't have any cracks either.
 

JasKolp

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That's what I figured. I'm not experiencing a power loss or anything like what I've read happens when a cat goes out, so I think it'll be alright for awhile. Thanks for the help!
 

adventure_is_necessary

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That's what I figured. I'm not experiencing a power loss or anything like what I've read happens when a cat goes out, so I think it'll be alright for awhile. Thanks for the help!
Might see if there's a heat shield or if the exhaust pipe is making contact with the floor? Just a thought as I've had this problem before on a previous vehicle and it was a heat shield with a split mount hole causing it to droop and contact the cat.
 

JasKolp

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Might see if there's a heat shield or if the exhaust pipe is making contact with the floor? Just a thought as I've had this problem before on a previous vehicle and it was a heat shield with a split mount hole causing it to droop and contact the cat.
I didn't see anything, but I'll do another check around to make sure.

just be ready for when this happens lol
Ouch, lol. Yeah, I'll be keeping an eye on it. Was it hard to remove and replace?
 

dos531

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I didn't see anything, but I'll do another check around to make sure.


Ouch, lol. Yeah, I'll be keeping an eye on it. Was it hard to remove and replace?
Not difficult, just annoying. Have to remove the transmission crossmember and torsion bar to get it out.
 

JasKolp

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Not difficult, just annoying. Have to remove the transmission crossmember and torsion bar to get it out.
That's encouraging. How much was the part? I've seen them listed online for anywhere from $350-$700.


As for the suspension upgrade that I'm hoping to do next year, I found these, some Bilstein B6 preformance shocks and King Spring coils:
amazon.com/dp/B009FU7G4O/?coliid=I30NFSLPWNQR6&colid=2U58XZOZV4L4C&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it
amazon.com/dp/B009FU4IGS/?coliid=I11OSNYWT2PN5R&colid=2U58XZOZV4L4C&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

http://www.euro4x4parts.com/parts/urh1238-925_suspension_coil_spring_king_springs_KMRR-91.html

I, being someone who decided it would be a good idea to make a Mercedes other than the G-Class off road worthy, have only been able to find these aside from the OEM replacement shocks and springs. I also don't know anything about shocks and springs, but reading the few reviews I was able to find for these products, they seem like they'll be better for my purposes than stock. Does anyone else agree/disagree/have a better suggestion?
 

dos531

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I wasn't willing to spend the money on a new one. I welded it back together and put it back in. Our laws in california are very strict about replacing catalytic converters, but in your area you may be able to have a muffler shop weld in a universal cat.
Bilsteins are always good. The 30mm lift in the rear should be fairly even with a front torsion bar crank. If you're going off road you're going to want to fab something to cover the plastic fuel tank, which is one of the lowest points under the car.
 

JasKolp

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I'm in SC, and I don't think we even have laws about vehicle emissions. I'll still replace the catalytic converter though, I don't really see a downside to not doing so.
Yeah. Its annoying with how almost everything else is tucked above the frame, and then the fuel tank has a huge section hanging like an inch below the frame. I'll definitely be adding a plate in front of it to protect it, next year. Lots to do next year.
 

kostkafex

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As for the suspension upgrade that I'm hoping to do next year, I found these, some Bilstein B6 preformance shocks and King Spring coils:
amazon.com/dp/B009FU7G4O/?coliid=I30NFSLPWNQR6&colid=2U58XZOZV4L4C&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it
amazon.com/dp/B009FU4IGS/?coliid=I11OSNYWT2PN5R&colid=2U58XZOZV4L4C&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

http://www.euro4x4parts.com/parts/urh1238-925_suspension_coil_spring_king_springs_KMRR-91.html

I, being someone who decided it would be a good idea to make a Mercedes other than the G-Class off road worthy, have only been able to find these aside from the OEM replacement shocks and springs. I also don't know anything about shocks and springs, but reading the few reviews I was able to find for these products, they seem like they'll be better for my purposes than stock. Does anyone else agree/disagree/have a better suggestion?
King springs are well-respected among the Subaru crowd, and Bilstein is Bilstein, they know what they are doing! The B6 4600 series is basically a "better than OEM" solution for stock and minimally lifted vehicles, so sounds perfect for what you are doing.
 
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JasKolp

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Jason
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Kolp
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Sorry for the lack of posting...I've been busy with life stuff and haven't been online a whole lot. But, this month I'll be done paying off my medical debts and next month I'll be able to get started on some of the larger upgrades for the Mercedes! I did make some progress since Overland Expo East; I did an oil change (I had to remove the bash plate so I could get both my hands on the wrench to turn the stripped bolt), installed some netting, and finalizing some plans for the vehicle to get it at least off road ready by the end of 2020!

I made a rough sketch of what I want the sleeping platform to look like in the rear seating area. My idea is that when the single chair folds down, it'll have a board that will sit nearly flush with the platform. And the cargo side will be hinged so that it will be easier to access anything stored beneath it. Right now I think having a standard tool chest installed in that area would be more simple, weigh less, and be more portable than anything I or my friends could help me build. The only issue with that is finding one that will fit in the space available. In the rear, the platform will also be hinged for easier access to the boxes I have. One thing I noticed when I was at the Overland Expo, was how often I accessed the boxes while they were in the vehicle. Since I didn't have a table for them to sit on like my last camping trip, I think having a platform which allowed me to easily access my gear without taking the boxes out would be a huge help.

I recently got a Raspberry Pi and plan on installing it in the vehicle. I still need to buy a touch screen and other attachments, but my goal for it is to have; music player, navigation/GPS, a backup camera (although I might just have a switch on the monitor so the camera displays when the car is put in reverse), filled with fun InGen/JP stuff (documents, photos, dinosaur list, ect...), and able to access ML computer and let me read codes and have a digital readout of the systems. I don't know what all I'll be able to read, but if it can tell me what codes are being thrown then that'll be okay.

My goal for next month is to get a tow hitch installed along with a hitch mounted spare tire carrier. My space saver spare is currently floating around in the back of my ML and I can't stand it. Once I have the mount installed I'll look into getting a full size spare, and put it in my tire rotation. In March I'm hoping to get the bumpers repaired and repainted, and then the computer installed. I also found an actual Mercedes/German car mechanic! They're an hour away from where I live, but it'll be better than the local mechanics close by who do 'work' on Mercedes. I had high doubts after they told me they ordered the wrong power steering hose and were perplexed that there was multiple hoses...I figured I should go somewhere else after that. I'm planning on taking it to the Mercedes mechanic sometime in the next couple of months for them to see if there is anything else that needs to be fixed that I don't already know about.


I also have an Instagram where I usually post updates first. If you have one as well let me know, I'd love to follow more overlanders! https://www.instagram.com/blazingarmoury/


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