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Thread: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

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    55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    I came across a 'low mileage' M104.990 (from the W140 300SE). I plan to use it in a future project.
    This .990 came from a 1992 300SE that was sold in japan and then imported to Canada where it was rear ended. The engine has done 54,858 KM and that's the main reason I went to get it (all the way from NJ) . It's been a month since I got it and due to other projects I only got to it now. I removed the intake and exhaust manifolds and could not hold myself from removing the valve cover and taking a careful look at the top end while expecting it to look like new, this is not how I anticipated the cam lobes will look after 54 K km (assuming it was regularly maintained) The engine sat for a long time (indoors) at the yard I purchased it from.

    Here is a link for my google drive folder that contains pictures

    I will appreciate any comments and opinions.

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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    Which specific photos were a cause for concern? I didn't see anything in the Google pics that jumped out at me as a red flag. Just looked like an engine that hadn't run in a while. No varnish or sludge either, which is good.

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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by gsxr View Post
    Which specific photos were a cause for concern? I didn't see anything in the Google pics that jumped out at me as a red flag. Just looked like an engine that hadn't run in a while. No varnish or sludge either, which is good.
    Thanks for your response.
    I was concerned with the cam lobes tips in particular, the marks I circled makes me wonder (and worry) if this engine was starving for oil. I took some cam caps off to make sure there are no surprises there (pics on G drive).
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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    The discoloration at the edge is a little odd, but the tip of the lobe appears to have normal wear. I wouldn't lose sleep over that.


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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by gsxr View Post
    The discoloration at the edge is a little odd, but the tip of the lobe appears to have normal wear. I wouldn't lose sleep over that.
    No excessive for that mileage? What do you think about the cam cap and the cam surface? I never saw this kind of discoloration but I have never opened an M104 with less than 75,000 miles. Forgot to mention that I can press down on all 24 lifters, which supports the fact that the engine has been sitting.

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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    The tip of the lobe being shiny, relative to the rest of the lobe surface, is normal IMO. The discoloration is the only odd part, but if there were issues with oil starvation you'd see far more serious damage. I really don't think there's anything to be concerned about, I'd re-seal the engine and fire it up.


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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    It looks like someone put some money to that engine - no leaks whatsoever. Looks like the front timing cover was resealed (hopefully they didn't let all the oil leak before repairing) , I would not be surprised if the head gasket was replaced as well (as no leak from the rear of the block) , but I will find out soon as I would like to take a close look at the cylinders bores , pistons and the bottom end in general. I will be removing the head and the oil pan, I will keep updating this thread and my G drive folder.

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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    Looks still fine. That wear however at the tip is more like in the 300.000km range, if it were an M119 engine... No experience to remember with cam wear picture on the M104 though...
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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Christian_K View Post
    Looks still fine. That wear however at the tip is more like in the 300.000km range, if it were an M119 engine... No experience to remember with cam wear picture on the M104 though...
    That's a shame,But to be honest the bottom end is what I am after, at this mileage it should barely have wear.. I would be more anxious if the cam cap was showing any kind of wear. I am still wondering whats the deal with the lobe tips, but that doesn't concern me as much as wear on the bottom end.

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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    Unless someone can share some evidence that something is wrong with those cam lobe tips, I'd completely ignore the cams.

    Is there any sign of unusual wear on the bottom end?


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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by ytech View Post
    That's a shame,But to be honest the bottom end is what I am after, at this mileage it should barely have wear.. I would be more anxious if the cam cap was showing any kind of wear. I am still wondering whats the deal with the lobe tips, but that doesn't concern me as much as wear on the bottom end.
    I wouldnt worry to much either. Its at the end of the cam ramp a slight "dip",but due to speed at which that stuff happens, you would not see any harm i believe. Its just that i had the same "sharper" tips on my M119 cams in a higher milage engine, as opposed to my other M119 engines and spare heads i have here. As i was preparing my cams for regrinding with Dbilas, i choose the ones that had not these sharp tips IIRC.
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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by gsxr View Post
    Is there any sign of unusual wear on the bottom end?

    I do not have any concrete information about that bottom end (yet...) , My rebranded snap-on borescope reviled a cross hatching pattern in all 6 bores (via spark plug holes), but its impossible to see the reversal area. Looking through an intake port, with the valves open I could see some buildup but cross hatching as well (reversal area). I was going to do a leak down test but I think that it is just going to return misleading results given the cold engine that sat for a long period of time and the results might make me lose some sleep... I'll sleep better after I will remove the head and take a good look at the bores, measure them out and then I'll get the block on a stand and remove the oil pan while hoping to see what I imagined as a 54,858 km crankshaft and bearings. I will keep this post updated as well as my G drive folder. I also have 2nd over size pistons as a plan B, I am not looking forward to use them on this engine.

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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by ytech View Post
    ..I also have 2nd over size pistons as a plan B, I am not looking forward to use them on this engine.
    There is NO way I would bore the block & replace pistons unless you had excessive oil consumption from piston/rings, or other drastic symptoms of bottom-end failure. M104's are not known for cylinder wear. Clean it up, replace appropriate seals, install the motor and drive it! There's a lot to be said for a few thousand miles of Italian tune-up.


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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    It's just a plan B, I removed the ac compressor bracket which is a part of the pcv system.. I also took a few pictures looking via intake valve port...
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    Last edited by ytech; 1 Day Ago at 09:10 PM.

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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    Dave,

    If I had an engine out of the car and was replacing headgasket. I'd probably pull all the way down and clean everything. Rings & honing cylinders if they are in spec is SOP. Inspecting brgs and replacing.. all timing guides etc. I haven't done this on a MB, but we use to do them commonly on the cars we drove as mechanics. It was really only a weekend job plus a few evenings and then I had something reliable.

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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    Let me put in my 2 cents on this edge "wear" of the cam.

    The cam is to push the hydraulic lifter, which in turn pushes the valve stem. The width of the cam is less than the diameter of the hydraulic lifter. The contact between them is a line contact, across the CAM. In mechanical design, when you have a line contact as such, you don't want the edge to be protruding out, because the edges will be forming point contacts to induce very high contact stress, thus substantial wear. The grinding or "wear" sign shown in the picture to me is more like some dremel work to grind out the sharp edges. The important thing is the inner contact line across the CAM.

    You can coat the specific cam with a layer of ink or dye across where the suspected wear is (don't coat the entire CAM, just one line). Rotate the camshaft to engage the CAM in question with the hydraulic lifter for one full cycle. Examine the dye again to see if there is any uneven contacts, where you see spots with the dye worm off substantially. If you see that, then the contact between the CAM and the lifter is a concern. You can also examine the hydraulic lifter on how the dye is printed on it. If not, I don't see problems.

    Finally, when I replaced my head gasket (see the top end rebuilt thread of this board), I took my engine head to a machine shop. I had to remove the CAM shaft and bled all the hydraulic lifters myself to save money. From that experience, oil starvation will not only wear at the edge as shown. It would be across the entire CAM surface and the hydraulic lifters will show significant wear too. If your hydraulic lifter end surface is shinning, again, it would be of no concern of wear.

    jftu105

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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    Great idea!
    "You can coat the specific cam with a layer of ink or dye across where the suspected wear is (don't coat the entire CAM, just one line). Rotate the camshaft to engage the CAM in question with the hydraulic lifter for one full cycle. Examine the dye again to see if there is any uneven contacts, where you see spots with the dye worm off substantially. If you see that, then the contact between the CAM and the lifter is a concern. You can also examine the hydraulic lifter on how the dye is printed on it. If not, I don't see problems."
    Generally, oil starvation creates galling and grooves. Visible damage. Good idea to check each lifter with a straight edge. You must keep them with the same lobe.

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    Re: 55 K km M104.990 Camshaft Wear Evaluation

    I initially intended to measure the cam lift (after the disassembly of the Zylinderkopf), jftu105 method is easier and will provide more information regarding my concern (thank you for that). All 24 lifters "pass" the visual inspection. As a matter of fact, everything else under the valve cover seemed fine to me.. No discoloration or sludge of any kind (besides the cam tips). jftu105 mentioned that it looks like someone tried to grind the lobes, Since it seems that the head has been off and work was done to the engine, that could be the case. Unfortunately the individual that did the work decided to override WIS by using too much sealant on the front timing cover, the valve cover and the variable intake cam adjuster magnet which does not help with the disassembly, no complaints though.

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