The following morning I managed to just loosen the 4 bolts holding the fan so I could retrieve the trapped belt, got everything finally hooked back up and the alternator tensioned and fired it up. No leak that I could detect from the tensioner. Thats not totally a win yet because the tensioner is hidden under the thermostat housing and behind the AC bracket but you can get a relatively good look at where the oil has to fall when it drips. Anyway back out on the road for another test.
This time the road test is a complete success, 20+ miles later I'm happy and as the day is heating up I retreat inside.
In the afternoon I decide its probably time to tackle the broken wire to the AC compressor. This is the trigger wire for the AC clutch and without it the AC won't come on. Before the head gasket debacle I'd done some testing and it looked like this was the only reason the AC wouldn't work. I'd had some work done on the AC last year and it worked pretty well then although used up a lot of the limited power the OM616 engine could provide.
Anyway I crimped on a new wire with a new ring terminal and found a bolt (which we appear to have lost when I disassembled for the head gasket job) and got everything together nice. Then I had to fart around trying to get the AC belt tensioned enough. The tensioner on the AC belt is a weird system that looks like it should be spring loaded but isn't.
Unfortunately at some point I had decided to put the radiator cap on tight, I hadn't done that in some time because I had been worried about the head gasket. With the radiator cap loose I theorized the limited pressure in the system might keep from breaking a fragile head gasket. At some point I'd decided since the new head gasket is good I could pressure to the system which will make it cool better which would be important if I were running the AC on a hot day.
The tensioner for the AC belt lives just under the upper radiator hose and to loosen or tighten the bolt on it I had to push the hose out of the way. At some point doing so stressed the LAST cooling system hose which hadn't been replaced on the car. This hose (which Mercedes calls a bypass hose) goes from the thermostat housing to the water pump. Its about two and a quarter inches in diameter and maybe three inches long. It lives just under the timing chain tensioner...
You know what that means right? Lather, rinse, repeat.
I called Trent at buymbparts.biz and ordered up the hose. While I was at it I ordered a thermostat and a gasket for the thermostat hosing where it connects to the block. I put a new gasket there when we did the head gasket but I hate reusing gaskets and it was only a buck for a new one. I also ordered the 90 degree heater hose that lives just under the AC compressor. That one has been swollen by oil dripping on it for years and looks as if it'll fail next.
Angie asked me if this was the last straw, am I ready to junk this car and move on? She's got it all wrong of course. I'm so close, I've replaced so many parts in the past year:
Oil Cooler hoses
Now I can't possibly give up, I've got too much money, time, blood, sweat and yes I'm not to proud to admit tears invested in this car. It WILL ride again!