Date registered: May 2013
Vehicle: 1961 190SL
Location: Northern California, USA
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"yeah exactly.. i'm always scared by the small amount of rust you see - and what's actually hidden behind it."
Schlampe, you are so right on that. On my '36 Chevy pickup the bottoms of the doors were rusted away. Before I could make the patch panels I had to trim out the rust back to solid metal that I could actually weld to. The area trimmed out was significantly larger than the obvious rust. Because that pickup does not have tight compound curves in the doors I was able to make the patch panels from flat sheet metal.
The next challenge was welding them in. ANY sheet metal welding can cause tremendous heat distortion so placing tack welds at intervals of about 1 inch and welding in very short sections with the adjacent areas kept cool with wet rags was critical. If any weld joint other than a butt weld, for example a lap weld, is made some filler (lead or bondo) will be needed to conceal the exposed edge of the patch. I made only butt welds, hammered when still red hot then ground smooth, to preclude the use of filler. That is all a time consuming and tedious process that I actually enjoy doing but if a guy had to pay hourly labor to have it done he'd better be related to Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. At the end of that patch panel welding process there is inevitably some "oil can" in the sheet metal that had to be removed by metal shrinking, another tedious process. I still remember chasing an oil can all over one of those doors until I cornered it (literally worked it into one of the corners) and then said to it "I've got you now". I took 3 semesters of evening adult education classes to learn "coachwork" and actually enjoyed the challenge. Paying someone else to do it was not a financial option.
adjustments - interesting - what kind of gearbox adjustments can you do? it was definitely not within the 'normal' range or smooth for these cars
I have never seen the inside of an automatic transmission, my experience is in manual transmission repair. There are, however, people who don't just "fix" automatic transmissions. There are people with a deep understanding of how those autos actually work, what their weak points are and how to make them vastly better than anything the factory ever made. Being a newcomer to MB I know nothing about MB automatic transmissions. However there are many people who sell automatic transmissions for drag racing and street rod applications that can reliably handle the abuse of 1000 horsepower drag cars. I have a GM 2004R overdrive automatic from Bowtie Overdrives in this street rod and it is silky smooth when cruising gently yet can still lock up and "boil the hides" at full throttle, and it's been doing that reliably for over 10 years. There are certainly people who can build that kind of quality into a MB automatic. Upgrades to switch pitch and lockup converters may even be available to you. A lockup converter is a great feature because it both increases fuel economy and lowers transmission oil temperature, increasing transmission life.