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Levers

This component is part of Heating System.

Heater levers plastic

These are the four levers in the W113 dash; two red, one blue and one smoke grey

Two generations of these heater lever wheels were installed in the W113 SL Mercedes cars.

There is an early type which is a single coloured semi-transparent plastic disk. https://www.sl113.org/forums/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=22347.0;attach=36468;image

At the time of the change of interior Summer 1967 (from Chassis No 28xx ) a lever wheel which had two types of plastic was introduced. https://www.sl113.org/forums/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=22347.0;attach=36454;image

Function

The plastic levers in the W113 cars operate to regulate the amount of heat in the passenger compartment, and if this is directed to windscreen and/or feet. Further, the fresh air flow is regulated in a similar way.

Maintenance

The outer, black plastic part was made from material which would deform at the time of an impact (accident). This black plastic does not stand the test of time; it becomes brittle and will break. Common to see this on our W113 cars.

<<<<<<< To fix the later type lever wheel when broken, ======= Note, among the heater levers that are supplied from (various) vendors as a set today, the two red levers are ok, the blue one is semi-ok (a bit too bright blue, compared to original ones) but the smoke-grey type - well it is now supplied as orange. Not good.

How to fix

It is possible to rivet a new black plastic part (taken from an orange lever in a set) onto an old smoke-grey lever "body"

https://www.sl113.org/forums/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=25935.0;attach=51816;image

https://www.sl113.org/forums/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=22347.0;attach=36464;image

>>>>>>>

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Will Samples says: I have done the heater levers some years ago on my 280 SL. I did all the work thru the hole for the radio and the hole for the speaker. I have slender hands and am used to that kind of confined work but still cut them on the sharp edges and such inside the dash. But it was all done from the front. The only tip I used was a dab of Liquid Paper or similar paint on the cables going into the heater levers. I wanted to put the cables back at the exact same spot so that heater flap, heater valve travel was the same. Be very careful of the verticle tube that the levers pivot around and which also holds the light bulbs. These are delicate old plastic and if they break you will not like the solution. It is also worth your while to make sure the heater valve accessed from the firewall is smoothly working.

On my 1964 230 SL the center portion of the dash, through which the radio sits, can be removed without problem (I understand that on later models it cannot be removed). Also, working space is gained if you remove the interior of the glove compartment (note how the glove compartment spring sits, so you can put it back)

Is the 280Sl not supossed to have the transparent heater levers? I have just rebuilt my lever assembly with smoke, red and blue levers and the little black knobs that pop on the operating ends of the lever. I think I got them from a 108 or some other 1970s car. They also seem more durable than the black rubber levers.

280 SLs had the soft black levers.

Can anyone pass info on replacement heat levers. I have an early 250 SL and I need the all-clear colored plastic levers that do not have the black exposed part. Two red, one blue and I think one black. The black one I am not sure about it may have been replaced and should be another color.

Achim says: the black lever should be grey ("rauchtopas," smoke topas). The black ones are from late 250 SLís on. The coloured ones are no longer factory available and aftermarket replacements are of poor quality (e.g. SLS in Hamburg, Germany). You can get them only used from junk yards or people who part out Pagodas. Sometimes they are offered on eBay.

My 1967 230 SL has two transparent red levers (temperature left and right side), one transparent blue lever (fresh air control), and one transparent "smoke" colored lever (defrost or floor control). I'm not sure what to call the color of the up/down lever, but it is transparent, and kind of brown/gray/black/smoked-glass color.

The later heater levers are no good for long term use. I would change them to the hard colored plastic ones from early SL's. Expect to stuff your hands into the openings for the radio and speaker above for about 8 hours. A must for the DIY'ers is a small very flat 10mm wrench for the 3 retaining nuts holding the chrome strips to the dash and for the castellated nuts holding the cables to the levers. A good dentist mirror would be good too as well as a small bendable magnet (to pick up the droppings).

I bought heater levers just recently. They supposedly are originals but are just as pliable but more accurately, breakable as the old ones. It took the dealership 5 hours to replace them. I've also heard of the Duralevers that supposedly allow you to fix these levers without dash removal. I don't know what it looks like but it supposedly works only if the ring is still intact. You can check with Star Quality (www.starqualityparts.com) or budsbenz.com for explanation and installation instructions.

I spent $128 for the set of heater levers. Labor cost was $575 (5 hours, I think) at a local Mercedes dealership. The car sat at the shop for three days because they had to find the "special vehicle technician" to work on it even with installation instructions. I made sure they lubricated the cables and replaced the bulbs too. Other W113 owners estimated labor hours at 8 - 9 hours. Now, two of the levers move so smoothly I don't worry about using them. One is a just acceptable. The last one is barely useable as you really have to be careful and I use the rings instead of the knob to operate it. I've decided to leave them all at the defrost settings (heat). Someone recommended moving them at least once a month just to keep the parts from sticking.

On my 69 280 SL, the knob came off so I superglued it to the ring. Apparently the glue's bond was stronger than the rest so the ring broke off in two other places. I tried glueing them back but was afraid the pieces might fall inside and get stuck somewhere. Duralevers would have been a viable solution (about $120 also) if the ring was intact. I spoke to Ray Paul of Star Quality Parts and my understanding was Duralevers clamp unto the ring and reinforce the knobs hence you save on labor and the aggravation of gutting the dash. That's just how I visualize it, call them if you want more details. If you're considering doing this yourself with the original levers, removal of the glove box (halfway out, diconnect the wire to the light), the radio, the speaker grill (just two screws on top) and the 3 pcs of chrome escutcheon (bolted on the inside) is necessary just to get to the heater control unit. The cables then have to be released and the levers replaced.

Joe Alexander: I have replaced many sets of original levers in 113 chasis cars. It is a long and tedious job. No special tools are required, you must be patient and plan on spending 8 to 10 hrs on this project the first time. You must follow a somewhat exact sequence of moves, which among other things includes removal of radio, speaker, glovebox door and glovebox, lighter, clock, chrome face, etc. The euro-delivered models had all hard acrylic levers, which did not break, they illuminated nicer and were more ridged. In the U.S., safety regsulations required all cars to have soft knobs and levers on the dash after a certain model year, hence rubber heater levers for US delivery cars which break because of u.v. degradation after a period of time. One should be sure to get factory fresh and not old stock since the rubber levers can become brittle from long terms in improper storage. The original, pre-US acrylic levers can be ordered instead of the US rubber levers from Mercedes if you wish. 230 SL, and possibly 250 SL cars came with these hard acrylic levers from the factory even in the US. Soft levers were added to US delivery cars later and these are the ones which degrade and fail. You may be able to find an old 108 sedan pre Ď70 or a euro delivery car which will have the acrylic levers which do not break. They will work nicely and are more authentic looking than the Duralevers. The later 108-series cars suffered from the same problem with soft levers, which break. Some tips: take time to free-up and clean the heater water control valve, when this gets hard and gummy it makes the heater lever stiff. Grasp each cable with pliers, when the levers are out and make sure the cables are free. It is not usually the cable that is stiff, follow the cable to the other end and find out what is stuck. The previous comment about using an extra small 10mm wrench for removing the chrome face strip is a good tip. Look through the windscreen into the speaker hole to find the two hidden phillips screws which fasten two of the cables. Pay close attention when disassembling the heater lever unit (make photos or diagrams). There are lots of parts and its easy to forget the proper assembly sequence.

With new heater levers just installed, does anyone have easy maintanence tips for keeping the heater levers working properly. Although I try not too, I move the levers almost everytime I use the car. The mechanic supposedly lubricated the cables but there's one lever that is still hard to operate. I am wondering if there's anything I could do just from taking the speaker grill off.

Joe Alexander: To preserve your heater levers protect against the sun! Use an ultraviolet light absorber like Armoral etc. to help screen out the sunís UV rays. If you never use the heater controls something is bound to get stuck. Wait until the engine coolant temperature reaches full temperature before attempting to move the lever (red arrow). It will move easier when hot. If your levers are dried out and weak, your days are numbered. If your levers are heathy and strong keep them that way and exercize them to keep everything working freely. Bad or stuck cables are rarely the cause of hard moving levers. It is usually heater flaps, or stuck water valves!

Bob Geco though: don't use Armoral. The dymethyl silicone and petroleum will degrade the plastic levers. If you want to use a protectant with lots of UV stabilizers and none of the bad stuff, use 303 products.

I'm planning on taking on replacing my broken heater levers on my '64 230SL Euro. In pricing out the levers, the pricing seems very inconsistent. The dealer wants $60 a lever, Star Quality wants $26 a lever, and some guy on EBay wants (currently) $70 bucks for a set. What am I missing? Is this an OEM versus Mercedes genuine issue?

Make certain this is an "apples to apples" comparison, e.g., new parts vs refurbished from a dismantled car. [2] be certain that one is not talking about a whole sub-assembly vs just a lever.

Go with Star Quality.

Yes, make sure you're dealing with the exact same product. The original transparent levers are NLA (No Longer Available). You need to make sure exactly what you're being offered by your different sources. There will be some price differences on the same product from different sources.

One of my levers was broken last summer, and I just glued it back together with some 3M superglue. It has held fine so far, and I reckon if I'd used extra strong (two-component/ epoxy) super glue I would not be concerned at all that it would not hold. So that is a route that can be used for at least some broken levers.

Pete Lesler says: the barrels on to which the black caps are attached are clear plastic in order to allow the light to shine through the upper and lower heater levers. They may be dirty and may be inhibiting the light also. May be difficult to access with just the speaker off, however. You may need to remove the radio as well.

Richard Madison: One of my winter projects is to replace the 4 heater levers, 1971 280 SL. The levers are available on eBay and also from MB...MB is quite a bit more $. Anyone have experience to know if the extra $$$ is worth buying form MB? Don't need concours perfection, just levers that will work and last a while.

Bernt Damm: you need to:

  1. Remove covers under dash
  2. Remove glove box,
  3. Remove clock
  4. Remove fan switch
  5. Remove underside dash cushion in middle
  6. Remove the horizontal chrome strip under the radio
  7. Remove radio
  8. Remove cigarette lighter
  9. Remove speaker cover and speaker
  10. Undo the 3 nuts from behind that hold the 3 piece chrome around the levers in place.
  11. Remove the 3 chrome pieces in the order from right to left.
  12. Undo the steel cable clips that hold each cable to the lever assembly. Careful, they break! Do this from underneath as well as through the speaker hole. You may need a small mirror.
  13. Undo the little nuts that hold the cable ends in the levers and pull out the cable ends.
  14. Remove the complete assembly by tilting it and pulling it out of the dash and then remove it to the bottom. there are cutouts in the metal for the levers to fit through.

The rest is a matter of disassembling the unit and replacing the levers. 14 might need to be done when the unit is already pulled to the rear and tilted a little. Sounds easy but you need to be a little acrobatic to fit in there. It isn't too bad though and doing it on the fin tail sedan is much worse. It is about a long afternoon's work with assembly.

Heater Lever Lights

I was driving tonight (caught in the rain!) and I noticed that the 4 heater/vent levers over the radio are not lit. I recall a previous post saying that a light should be behind these. Is this correct? Is this a pain in the $&%#* to replace?

Yes, Rodd, the heater levers should illuminate together with the instruments. Try to play with the dimmer switch first. Nothing, no light? There are 2 light bulbs within the heater levers, one right, one left. You can access them either from the top or the bottom (I forget) - I think from the top. Take out the speaker and you will see a lid with a Phillips screw in the center of the left and right heater lever unit, respectively. The bulb exchange should be easy then. If these screws are from underneath (I don't remember exactly) you need to take out the radio instead. Check also the 2-pin plug that attaches to the heater lever unit. Often it is no longer connected and this is the reason why the illumination or the cigar lighter or the clock (each unit has an own plug) do not work any longer.

I went for a rare night drive this week. To my surprise, the left two heater/vent controls had a functioning light behind them!! I don't recall ever seeing that before, it looked very nice even though it was not very bright. Anyway, the right two controls did not have any light behind them. I thought that there was only one light behind the heater/vent controls. An all or nothing deal. Is my car normal? Is it best to access and replace these bulbs by removing the speaker panel or the glove box?

The pair of levers on each side sits on a clear shaft or spindle, and there is a small bulb inside the spindle, inserted from the top. With a very short screwdriver, you can replace the bulb in 10 minutes or so from the top by removing the speaker. You might want to get the bulb (or bulbs, for safety's sake) first, as they're unusual and not available at your local auto parts store.

So, do both sets of levers sit on one post/spindle (one bulb) or does each side have it's own post/spindle (two bulbs)? If there is only one bulb, then where is my light coming from, the speedometer? I will have to look at my speaker grille. I have heard that some are held in by clips and some are screws. This sounds like a simple fix. Is this an opportunity to make an improvement? Are there any bulb options that would light up the levers better?

Pete Lesler: there is a light for the left hand side as well as the right hand side heater levers. The bulbs are a bit special but should be easy to get to if you remove the speaker. There is a black cap that screws down over another black cap through which the bulbs and their small harness attach. These black caps cover a transparent cylindrical barrel around which the heater lever rotates. Replace both bulbs, and check all of the cables while in there. Bulbs should be available from Star Quality, Buds or Millers.

They are available from any Mercedes dealership parts dept for under $1. They are worth replacing. The dash looks great at nite.

I spent about an hour working on those pesky little lights last night!! It's always more difficult the first time. I got the lights out and looked at them. They looked OK, the glass was clear and the filament seemed intact on each one. Not having any new lights yet, I tried to swap the two to see if the trouble followed the light bulbs. Well, I went back to having BOTH lights not working. I'll get new bulbs and try it again then. I hope I don't have a wiring issue!

If you had a multimeter you could do a continuity test on the bulb without having it plugged into the car voltage. I have had the same multimeter for about 35 years. It is an analogue unit. These days they are digital but they are still about the same price. They can test continuity and voltage (AC and DC) plus lots of other things. Is there another way of testing them before buying new bulbs or a multimeter? Will they fit in another socket somewhere on the car?

Test with a piece of cable. Hold underside contact of bulb to battery +. At the same time hold cable to outside metal of bulb and the other end of the cable to chassis or battery -. If you see light great, if not the bulb is stuffed.


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