"not sure what condition the rest of the car is in, but consider replacing the part with an original piece if the rest of the vehicle is also spec'd with original parts. Machining one out of alu will look cool, but parts like that stick out like a sore thumb on these old beasts."
"Side note, i've done the same procedure on my 190SL as well...hopefully you don't also have to remove the intake manifolds...the coolant line that runs between them (which is actually there to heat the manifolds, not cool down) also rusts very easily. Likely the same metal and method of manufacture."
Thanks for the observation. I will check it carefully. This car is in unrestored condition and hardly pristine (photo below). The right front fender has been hit and inexpertly repaired with bondo rather than being properly straightened. On my projects I do not use bondo because I regard that as plastering, not metal straightening. The metal top, floor and battery tray have extensive rust damage. But this is not a restoration, it is "Get it running".
As to the look of a custom part, I think they look extremely cool and showcase the restorer's skills. This home made aluminum water neck will be a visual duplicate of the OEM part and could easily be anodized or epoxy painted black for a totally original look.
When I got into this project I found that this car has no air filter element and probably has not had one for a long time. None of the "professional" mechanics who have serviced it for my mother in law ever even pointed that out. Apparently the OEM element was some kind of a horse hair pad that is long out of production, even in the aftermarket.
In contemplating the 2-piece filter element housing I found a way to fit a readily available NAPA round filter element by maching a few simple parts to accommodate it. If it would be helpful I'd be glad to send you a photo of that inexpensive and visually undetectable substitution. To me, having machining and welding capability at home frees me from being dependant on what is available from others. Prowling forums like this one occasionally turns up extremely useful nuggets of information that I use in my projects.
An example is my 1936 Chevy pickup that I've owned since 1965 in various configurations (unrestored original, "rat rod", and finally restored). I've always wanted to change the original 4.11 gear ratio to something more highway friendly. While belonging to the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America (VCCA) for over 40 years I asked various "experts" if that could be done and the answer was always "No". The stated reason was that the original rear gears are spiral bevel and the 3.55 gears that came along in 1950 are hypoid, and hypoid gears won't fit in a spiral bevel rear end.
That's true, but a nugget of information surfaced in a forum I was reading. A 1937 Chevy car rear end has the same width (track) as a 1936 Chevy pickup rear end and is hypoid, thus the 3.55 gear set will fit. Here's a link to Part 2 of a write up of that project in the 1936 Chevy Owners forum: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/...iles/How%20To/
. I'm computer illiterate, so if that doesn't get you all the way there you're looking for "Ray Waldbaum's 3.55 conversion". As the write up explains, it was far from a "bolt in" but was quite doable with a lot of sweat and some simple machine tools, hand tools and a welding machine.
It's my hope to come across information like that to use on my present 190SL "get it running" project. I think that car also has 4.11 gears and that has to be really noisy at highway speeds. I've also heard that the 190SL engine is pretty anemic, especially at low RPM. Is that true? If so, it may need the 4.11 gears to get into its power band but with 4.11 gears and those tiny tires there must be a lot of engine noise. If not, maybe I could do a rear gear conversion similar to the one I did on the '36 pickup.
If there are any other irreverant do-it-yourselfers on this forum who feel no pain, and actually enjoy doing subtle performance enhancing modifications on 190SLs I sure like to hear from you guys.