by Joe Alexander
View the Split Rear Axle Boot Installation page
From time to time, the subject of the split rear axle cuff (rubber split boot) comes up in discussion on the International Ponton Owners Group (IPOG) mailing list. It was included here — to supplement the already existing information on the site.
Jeff Miller / November 29, 2003
Bill Vickery wrote:
My 1955 Mercedes-Benz Type W180 220a Ponton sedan's rear axle is leaking from the rubber sleeve. The MB part number embossed on the sleeve is 110 357 04 91. A mechanic friend tells me there is an after market sleeve called a "split boot" with approximately twelve staples to replace the original boot and it is much easier to install although it requires a special tool. Does anyone have any experience with the split boot sleeve?
Joe Alexander replied:
The earliest 4 cylinder Ponton sedans used a double swing axle. In approximately 1954 or 1955, Daimler-Benz first began using the single swing axle on the 6-cylinder Ponton models, which replaced the previous double swing axles in most of their passenger vehicles. Then, the 4 cylinder Ponton models were fitted with the single swing axle design. The basic design and the rubber axle boots remained the same in most models with the swing axle up until 1972 (the W108 series). The same rubber boot was used in all Ponton series production cars (after the early double swing axles). Also included in this design were the W110, W111, W112 "Heckflosse" (1959-1968) series, and the W108 series (1965-1972).
There is a lot of good boot replacement information in later Mercedes-Benz Service Manuals also. The Service Manual / Maintenance, Tuning, Unit Replacement / Passenger Cars starting August 1959 (651 014 02 13) has a nice description with photos (reference job numbers 35-9/1 and 35-9/2). The special pliers (111 589 06 37 00) are clearly shown in Figures 35-9/1 and 35-9/3. Clip installation and placement for the split boot (110 357 03 91) is also clearly shown.
Also shown is the placement of the seam on the split boot during installation. The placement of this seam is horizontal and to the rear. Nine clips were used. These clips strongly resemble flat carton staples. Years ago I was able to buy an installation kit (110 357 05 91) for these split boots. The kit included two special skinny clamps (9mm wide), and nine clips for just a few dollars. I always used needle nose pliers to fasten the clips. Surprisingly these split boots worked very well. The text reads "Note: The cuff seam (split boot seam) must be horizontal pointing toward the rear and must not be coated with sealing compound." However I cannot see that sealer would cause any obvious problem. The factory book time on split boot replacement is 1.4 to 1.6 hours depending on the model. The factory book time on the solid boot replacement is around 7.0 hours. Of course, these times reflect ideal working conditions, with special tools on hand and experienced technicians.
The original non split boot for the Ponton series was 180 357 04 91. The original split boot replacement was 180 357 05 91. Later documentation supersedes these numbers.
180 357 04 91: Original non split boot for Pontons.
180 357 05 91: Replacement for the preceding original non split boot (May, 1956).
110 357 04 91: Replacement for the preceding original non split boot. Used on W120, W121, W105, W180, W128, W110, W111, W112, W108 series.
110 357 03 91: Split boot replacement for the preceding original boot. Still used today (November, 2003).
Update: September 26, 2005
Len Sokoloff has some thoughts on doing the split boot job:
If you do not have a lift in your garage and can find a mechanic who will do the job for 1-2 hours of labor, jump on it. It is very difficult trying to do this job on your back. If you have your own lift, it will be much easier.
If you have any thoughts about doing your fuel tank, do it in conjunction with replacing the split boot. If my fuel tank had not been full, I would have considered dropping it. I bet the split boot can be replaced in a half an hour with the tank out of the way. With the tank in place, I spent over four hours (two different times!) doing the job.
Make sure you put a staple at each end of the boot under the clamps. It was not obvious that staples went there. And of course, use about seven or eight other staples in the ridges and valleys of the boot.
I used NAPA / Permatex High Tack sealant as recommended by one of the International Ponton Owners Group (IPOG) members. It comes in a can with an applicator brush and costs less than $5.00. Others have suggested 3M Weather-strip adhesive or Permatex Blue. The shop manual says not to use anything, but most of those who have done it say to use something.
Created November 29, 2003 / Jeff Miller
Last Update: October 09, 2013