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MECHANICALS With a 30 year-old automobile, there will always be discussion here - maintenance, modifications and mechanicals.

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  #1  
Old 12th October 2010, 12:44 PM
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MercedesMike MercedesMike is offline
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Default Sphere longevity

It's almost two years to the day since I got back my '78 6.9 from the repair shop where I had all five spheres replaced. This afternoon while driving home from work, the bounce has returned signaling the demise of one or more of those spheres. Bouncy bouncy is how I would best describe the ride home. Taking a poll of the reading audience: How long have you been able to run before having to replace these spheres? And what diagnostic steps should my repair guy take to diagnose which one or ones have gone bad? The last time this happened, it cost me over $2K in parts and labor to replace them. Not happy.
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  #2  
Old 12th October 2010, 03:01 PM
John S John S is offline
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Default Re: Sphere longevity

Wow, 2 years is a very short time for a sphere to last, hopefully it is only one sphere that needs replacing.

I had spheres in my 450SEL for 5 years before it was hail damaged and sold, the previous spheres were 5+ years old, probably nearer 10 I should think.
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  #3  
Old 12th October 2010, 04:10 PM
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Default Re: Sphere longevity

I stand to be corrected, but I think that there 3 manufacturers of spheres for 6.9's. I do not know if there are any differences in quality between the manufacturers. Fichtel & Sachs are one of the manufacturers, but they are not the ones in my car.
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  #4  
Old 12th October 2010, 04:12 PM
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Default Re: Sphere longevity

Im getting conflicting reports on what signals a buggered sphere.

My wagon's rear end sits high and is as hard as a rock so it skips and bounces but not because of soft suspension but because its as hard as a rock.
Can someone enlighten me please?

Im also told that they had a filter fitted later on to the low pressure return.
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Old 12th October 2010, 05:30 PM
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Default Re: Sphere longevity

From what I understand the first sign of trouble is uncontrolled movement in the suspension; not sure exactly why. When they've completely failed it'll go rock hard. When the diaphram fails and the nitrogen leaks out, there's nothing but fluid in the cell and a fluid cannot be compressed.
I'd suggest bouncing the car when stationary by pushing down on each corner to try and isolate the failed cell. I'd replace them in pairs (across an axle), like any standard shock absorber so you don't upset the balance of the car. I'd also check the warranty, but it probably expired after only 12 months.
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01 Ford AU 5L (Deep Blue)
89 560L#322020
88 500L#451660-P
88 420L#422477-P
87 420L#324309-P
87 420L#-P
88 420L Euro#-P
88 420L#-P
86 560L#235896-P
79 6.9#5541 (Red Bull)
78 6.9#4248 (Skye)
79 6.9#3686 (Moby Dick)
78 6.9#1776 (Dora)
77 450L#067010-P
75 450L#028414 (Gold Nugget)-P
57 Buick 73A (Titanic)

Last edited by Oversize; 12th October 2010 at 05:47 PM.
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  #6  
Old 12th October 2010, 07:14 PM
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Default Re: Sphere longevity

That makes sense, I voiced those same thoughts elsewhere and was told that noooo they had to be soft bouncy when they failed.

New spheres in the TE then......
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  #7  
Old 12th October 2010, 07:30 PM
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Default Re: Sphere longevity

Hi MercedesMike and others - it is somewhat unusual for the Air Cells to only last for two years. Like with a number of 6.9 components, the supply of 6.9 parts exclusive has been swallowed up by items that used to be later models exclusives, such as Air Cells which are now marketed for both the 560 and 6.9 alongside.

In the olden days, and I am talking of fifteen years ago, a 6.9 Air Cell would in fact provide you with a service life of no less than ten years. Alas, those halcyon days are gone. In my experience, a new 'after-market' Air cell should last about four to five years. For the Australian market, you are normally supplied with units made by Febi-Bilstein, but I understand that Meyles were available probably three to four years ago, and another brand is Lemfoerder. I believe the last named to be the best, but also the most expensive. I do not know who makes the units for MB themselves. Meyle are the least likely to last well.

If an Air Cell has collapsed, that usually, in fact will always, result in a very bouncy, and downright uncomfortable ride. In fact, the ride can become so rigid as to result in the vehicle becoming undriveable and downright dangerous.

A well set up 6.9 should provide you with soft, and floating movement, when placing your weight on the front or rear bumper bars. It should rock like a waterbed. Regards Styria

Last edited by Styria; 10th June 2011 at 11:20 AM.
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  #8  
Old 12th October 2010, 08:46 PM
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Default Re: Sphere longevity

A few other cars that have hydraulic suspension a la 6.9:

Citroens. I can't identify the models, but certainly the SM did,

It was an option on the Mitsubishi Verada,

Lexus SC 400.

Perhaps other Topklassers can identify other makes / models.
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  #9  
Old 12th October 2010, 09:11 PM
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Default Re: Sphere longevity

W124 Wagons........ Rear only.
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  #10  
Old 12th October 2010, 09:12 PM
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Default Re: Sphere longevity

Im actually wondering if they fitted incorrect SLS Spheres to your S class?

Perhaps the W124 Spheres are smaller?
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  #11  
Old 12th October 2010, 10:50 PM
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Default Re: Sphere longevity

Others with hydraulic syspension that I know of include:
MB W116, W126
Citroen DS & many that followed
Lexus LX470 (some features developed in Aus)
Morris (not sure which ones)
RR
Berliet (truck)
Arjun (tank)

Why is it that the suspension becomes incredibly bouncy before it goes rock hard?
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Mark

01 Ford AU 5L (Deep Blue)
89 560L#322020
88 500L#451660-P
88 420L#422477-P
87 420L#324309-P
87 420L#-P
88 420L Euro#-P
88 420L#-P
86 560L#235896-P
79 6.9#5541 (Red Bull)
78 6.9#4248 (Skye)
79 6.9#3686 (Moby Dick)
78 6.9#1776 (Dora)
77 450L#067010-P
75 450L#028414 (Gold Nugget)-P
57 Buick 73A (Titanic)
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  #12  
Old 13th October 2010, 06:10 AM
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Styria Styria is offline
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Default Re: Sphere longevity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oversize View Post
Others with hydraulic syspension that I know of include:
MB W116, W126
Citroen DS & many that followed
Lexus LX470 (some features developed in Aus)
Morris (not sure which ones)
RR
Berliet (truck)
Arjun (tank)

Why is it that the suspension becomes incredibly bouncy before it goes rock hard?
Mark, it is because with more and more oil in the air cell, and less and less nitrogen available to stop compression, as someone has said fluids cannot be depressed. It's like driving a cart - no springing, incredibly bouncy. To check which one is faulty, drive ONE side of the car only over a speed hump, and then repeat process for the other side. You'll soon know which one is in need of replacement. Regards Styria
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  #13  
Old 13th October 2010, 08:28 AM
John S John S is offline
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Default Re: Sphere longevity

When the sphere initially fails, nitrogen leaks out and mixes with the oil. This 'aerated' mix cannot be controlled by the shock absorbing valves so you then get a soft bouncy ride. However, once the nitrogen has been depleted and only oil is left in the system you get the rock hard ride.

On 116's used daily you will notice the bouncy ride when it occurs, However on a club car that may only be used once a month, or perhaps go 2 months between used the car can go from a normal ride to rock hard as the nitrogen has had time to leak out. You may notice that the back or front is down a bit and the reservoir needs filling once the car pumps itself up, the extra oil replacing the lost nitrogen in one or more spheres.
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  #14  
Old 31st October 2010, 01:46 PM
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Default Re: Sphere longevity

It turned out the failure was with the two rear spheres. They were replaced and now the suspension behaves normally. Only $950 USD since my mechanic didn't have to replace the front ones. Sigh. An expensive hobby.
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  #15  
Old 31st October 2010, 03:45 PM
John S John S is offline
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Default Re: Sphere longevity

My initial impression was "Wow, $950 is a lot of money" as I paid about $500 when mine were replaced - but then I realised it's probably 10 years since they were replaced, so perhaps the increase is not as bad as it looks!

Last edited by John S; 1st November 2010 at 08:59 AM. Reason: 'wete' corrected to 'were'.
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