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1981 W123 280E "Rusty"
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Discussion Starter #41
Why can't stuff just be easy?

Well, I found another problem, something I had overlooked earlier: the thermo-time switch wires.

I found them resting up against the exhaust manifold, as they probably had for the past 10 years, in the condition of burnt split insulation and melted fraying copper wire. Thinking this would be the solution, I spliced in new wiring (safely, don't worry) and tried starting the car again. To no avail.

At this point, I have checked the primary wiring, the fuel distribution, the fuel pump control, most of the cold-starting system, and I am at a loss. Is there any mistake I could have made during my digging around that would cause the engine to run so rich that it can't start?

I may have also screwed up (literally) the mixture control screw while I was cleaning the air valve. Does that setscrew connect with mixture richness, and/or will adjusting it properly give me the right mixture?

Is it just me, or do those two sensors look like they've been hit with a hammer?
 

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Discussion Starter #42
Es läuft! Es läuft!

Well, after some fiddling around with the idle adjustment screw, I was able to get Rusty's engine to start AND idle! It's still a bit off, but at least the bloody thing runs right.

In honor of the 1-year "anniversary" of my custody of this car, I took it on a little drive around the block(s) to work the transmission and brakes, as well as the engine. Sure, me going about this whole procedure of taking a half-disassembled car on a public road where the more civilized people drive was risky, however, few people so much as looked up, so I figure driving rust buckets with no interiors is pretty normal around here. Being as the floor had little to no weight-bearing ability, I had to lay a piece of plywood down (they all tell me to just fix the floor with plywood) across the crossmembers to reside on. When upon that plywood board, I cannot say the comfort and ergonomics was what I have come to expect from the engineers of the three-pointed-star.

Although the welding portion of this project is likely to come a little later than I had hoped, it will indeed happen. Using a future-purchase Harbor Freight MIG 140 welder, I'd like to weld in patch panels cut from a Klokkerholm full left-side floor pan and a lower right-side pan, and maybe their trunk floor/rear fender repair panels. The rest of the smaller holes I could probably get away with repairing by using unnecessary body panels from our mournful Subaru station wagon (victim of fallen hemlock), hopefully it is not galvanized. Expect to see my lousy attempts at panel-bending soon.

It's probably invisible in these pictures, but I have tested out my carnauba wax on the left doors (it's okay, they're clean!).

That's my update for today, the Mercedes adventure is just beginning.
 

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1981 W123 280E "Rusty"
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Discussion Starter #43
The Turning Point

Monday's update. After a whole month.

This thread has been quiet, but Project Rusty has not. We finally dropped 584 dollars and 89 cents (excluding sales tax - $50.89) into a Harbor Freight 140 MIG welder and some basic equipment. Once I get some practice in and the settings tuned correctly, I should have the body done soon. At least, we'll see.

But that's not all...

One thing that was really driving me crazy about this car was the ridiculous amount of play in the shifter. So, I decided that it had to be fixed sooner or later, and I bought my first set of new parts for this car! Specifically, a set of shifter bushings and spares, the "required" installation tool, and a brake pedal pad, all from MercedesSource (supporting local businesses and all). It shipped fast too, since their warehouse is a mere mile from our residence. During the installation of the shifter bushings, I learned that one bushing was easier to install than the other - I almost had to remove the arm on the side of the tranny. On the other hand, I can now get the transmission completely into "Low" gear!

Concerning bodywork and welding, and now that I am going to be welding, is there anything I should know before letting the arcs fly everywhere? That is, besides having the ground clamp as close to the working surface as possible, adequate personal protection, and covering all windows and (valuable) painted surfaces with something not flammable? Should I stay outside of the car and not touch it while welding to avoid being electrocuted? Dumb questions, but I would like to play it safe when it comes to this project.

I've made it my goal that I'll have all this done by Rusty's 40th anniversary (I have 2 years).
 

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Discussion Starter #44
Tuesday's update - this update is more my attempt to play around with this new forum software.

Since I first got the car, I hadn't had a chance to get a really good look at the rust around the luggage compartment area (note - not "trunk" or "boot"!). When I started tearing the car apart, I didn't have any place to put the stuff I removed, that is, besides the luggage area. I also wanted that stuff out so I could drain and remove the fuel tank before welding in there (for safety reasons). So, on Monday, I spent a decent amount of time transferring all that stuff (the whole interior) from Rusty to our seldom-used Ford Ranger with a rear canopy. In doing this, I will guess I raised the rear suspension up several inches.

Here's the 'compartment after I emptied it, the day before I cleaned the dirt out. I guess I can paste images in place!
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And here is the compartment a day later. Note the inside white paint and the turn signals.
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Here is the left lower recess, with a red sheet to highlight the rust hole. (I LOVE THIS!)
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And here is the right lower recess, the one with the big hole. It actually doesn't look too bad, labor-wise.
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I don't know about the spare tire well. There are some holes, but it doesn't look TOO bad. Should I just cut up a patch panel for it? I do have a non-destructive plan for the rusted spot weld seams around it, though.
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I also spent some time cleaning up the front fenders. There is a painful amount of rust along the lower seam, and a big hole on the corner (applies to both fenders). The rock guard sections seem to be pretty beat up, with many large dents and scrapes. I think somebody sprayed black undercoating on the rock shield to try to "fix" the rust that was already showing up there; and what a mistake that was. I would like to try to repair the fenders I have, instead of buying new ones, just so I can keep the job of painting the car to a minimum. It's going to be interesting trying to patch that convex hole with a flat piece of metal.

Almost 2 weeks after I first bought my first welder, I finally had the chance to get it outside and lay down some poor cheap-flux-cored-wire beads. The wire that came with it is unimpressive. Is there a known better flux-core wire I can get for this welder, preferably not from Harbor Freight?

That's all for now, tomorrow I may try welding on the car using sheet metal I cut off an old microwave (low-grade, I know).
Uploading and placing those pictures seems a bit easier than before "the Update".
 

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'89 300E Turbo project, ‘85 Audi Coupe Quattro, ‘71 BMW turbo 2002, '73 BMW 2002tii, ‘67 Kaiser M725
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Get some .030” Lincoln flux from Lowe’s or Home Depot. Like $15 and be sure to get the same size tips. I’m assuming you have an induction knob and burnback setting on that inverter welder?

If you can get ahold of some thick copper, put it behind where you weld to control burn through and wasting wire.

Voltage setting should be low and wire feed about 2-3 range. Most likely a rough guide on inside of door of welder. Make sure polarity is correct. Ground clamp to + and wire feed on - for flux core.

Also take great care to never kink the wire feeder or you’ll risk damaging the liner.

If that metal from old microwave is galvanized, it won’t work so hot, weld will be weak.

Be sure to wear sleeves, gloves and mask at all times when welding. Can get a nasty sunburn on your skin and eyes in the middle of night will feel like someone sticking needles in them for hours on end.

I know I told you before, NO BRAKE CLEANER for cleaning anything you’re going to weld.
 

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1981 W123 280E "Rusty"
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Discussion Starter #46
Thanks for the info, it sounds like you've gone through this before!

On the welder, I've got 3 separate controls. Wire feed speed, voltage, and inductance, respectively. There is a simple chart on the door with basic settings for various thicknesses and wire types. I'm gonna screw around with the settings a bit on the old microwave before I try on Rusty and end up burning holes through my floor. The metal the microwave is constructed of (which isn't galvanized) could be used to patch some of the body, but I really don't want to use metal of a quality that probably only works well for kitchen appliances.

Why shouldn't I use brake cleaner? It's not like it says, "Do not use on welds - fumes can damage respiratory system"! I'd rather just use a wire brush.

I'm also interested in knowing of some of the recommended post-coatings for the repairs once I finish them. Weld-thru primers, rust encapsulators (the broad category), moisture-neutral seam sealers, cavity waxes, and if any of the final rust coatings are paintable. I don't necessarily want to know of "the best", I just want to know what other people have had success with. I'm leaning more towards POR-15 over the majority of the (future) welds, but I don't know if I can topcoat it in the areas I want the factory paint color.

Finally - I just ordered a full driver's side floor pan from FixRust. I didn't order anything else as I wanted to establish them as a reliable place to buy from. Plus, I wanted to see what the quality of the metal was before I dropped a paycheck on their site. All seems to be in order, all I can do is wait until it ships.
 

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Discussion Starter #47
Friday's Update - Wheel Arches!

Specifically, the front wings and the left rear wheel well.

Due to yard work and a lack of storage space, I decided to re-hang the front wings on the car. That, in turn, did two things. One, the fenders are much less likely to sustain damage during the demolition of our garage. Two, seeing the car with the wings back on it motivated me to start cutting out metal. That's the topic of this update.

Motivation...
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On Thursday, I got the sudden urge to fix the rust around the rear wheel arches (didn't I say that already?). That evening, I got the car jacked up and the LR wheel off. I proceeded to scrub the daylights out of the wheel well with my trusty (and effective) dish scrubber, and a bottle of spray degreaser. From there, I analyzed the real extent of the rust, and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it looked (knock-on-metal). The next evening, I finished up the scrubbing (OCD?) and wire-wheeled away at the smelly undercoating.

The result was this:
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After I had located all the rust (by beating the hell out of it with a screwdriver), I started cutting:
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Yep, that's all I have done so far.
It was mostly meant to be an analysis of the damage around that area, and so far, it doesn't look too bad. I'll check out the upper framework behind the subframe, but this looks hopeful.

Here's the hole again, not cleaned up yet. I see many cans of weld-thru primer in the future. Note the unusual rust-free lower-wing-sill-amalgamation-area:
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Hopefully, I will be welding in patches soon. The driver's side floor pan is still on its way, and I have yet to pick up some suitable scrap metal to make the smaller stuff. When I have everything lying in front of me, that's when I will probably start messing with the welder.

That's all for now, I guarantee more updates on poor old Rusty will come (unfortunately?).
 

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1981 W123 280E "Rusty"
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Discussion Starter #48
Something big has arrived in the mail. It might just be a Klokkerholm floor pan.

Once I have everything planned out, I will drain the fuel tank and get the left side of the body sealed.

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I hope you enjoyed massive pictures of wrinkled sheet metal.

On another note, I ordered a set of window scrapers from EBAY ( > $ ), and they showed up just now. The old scrapers were rotting apart, so the removal of those metal clips required the use of fire to separate the metal from the rubber and rust. I guess the heat may have also tempered the clips. Trivial...

Should I be using weld-thru primer on the areas I am gonna spot-weld? Will any weld-thru primer work for this?
 

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Discussion Starter #49
"Like a Hot Knife Through Butter"

I have made some major progress this past week. I've gone through 2 cut-off wheels.
No welding yet, but, weather-permitting, I should have the most of the driver's side floor in place. I still need to get weld-thru primer (industrial supply stores either don't have it or are closed) and a few other things, but it is gonna happen.

*Probably won't.

On Friday, the first thing we did was cut up the Klokkerholm floor panel to test for fitment and placement.
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As I noticed earlier, it is not of the highest quality, but I really don't care. It fits roughly enough that it should work, and that's really all I care about.

Note that I have a fiberglass welding blanket hanging over the windshield. If anyone out there is going to be doing this to their car, make sure to cover ALL glass surfaces BEFORE grinding or welding (I found that out the hard way on another car).

Next up was to remove the cross-member running perpendicular to the sill. My pilot bit wore out before I could drill out the pilot holes for the spot weld cutter, so I just cut it out with the ol' wheel. Re-installation took a "cross that bridge when I get there" in my mind; again, I didn't care.
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After that, I had access to the area where the frame member joins with the sill, and I tell you, it is a funny design.
The frame member bends up and meets alongside the inner sill, and gets sandwiched by a few spot welds. That, and the cross member above (err, not anymore...) helps to maintain the rigidity of the protruding frame member.
Before I started cutting out the rust (very challenging), I got the gut urge to place my jack underneath the frame member-sill-intersection point. A lot of metal is gone, and I want to keep the body as straight as possible. I cut underneath and around the "sandwiched" area mostly so I could keep my repair as clean as possible, no matter how ugly it looks as of right now. Should I worry too much if my Mercedes "Bends"?
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I hope to have some of those spot welds drilled out and to have that bendy panel thing off of there some time this week. When I get the rest of the rusty metal cut off the floor transition, I will be in the clear to start welding.

On the topic of welding, I picked up some Lincoln Electric NR-211-MP FCAW wire from Lowe's today. I have been practicing with the standard HFT wire the welder came with, and am not too impressed. It is less about burn-through and more about just getting a clean bead.

If you see in some of the pictures, a metal sheet is visible covering up the fuel lines. I currently don't have a container large enough to store the nearly-full tank of fuel this car has, so I ended up following Nutz's earlier advice in depressurizing the fuel lines, at least as a precaution, as I am working around them.

Keep in mind that all of this, this whole project, is a learning experience for me. I don't know anybody who has ever welded on a car before, let alone an entire floor. I'm suddenly the local expert simply because I have to go through the whole learning curve to save this poor pitiful car. My apologies for the digression, I just wanted to be honest about my experiences here. And just so you all know, I have absolutely no intention of quitting on this car.

I think my favorite part of shopping at Lowe's is hearing the robotic intercom. "Special assistance needed..."
 

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Discussion Starter #50
(Late) Wednesday's blog update, no pictures:

So, I just picked up some Pro Line EuroSpray copper weld-thru primer from the local autobody supply (they didn't have zinc primer in-store, but they special-ordered a can for us) to test out on my unfinished patch panels. That bent piece of metal seen in the last update has been cleanly removed, and I have enough metal cut out to start welding now. So, I guess my question is, now what?

I am planning to clean the WD-40 off the patch floor (it was a precaution when I stored it) and coat the edges of the patches with the primer. I plan to spray a little extra on the areas where there will be "spot" welds, just as a preventative measure. After that, I'll mark the positions where I want all the plug welds, drill the holes, cut out the weak metal on the outer door sill (I'll fix that with sheet steel from Hardware Sales), clamp it in place, tack the constituent panel to the sill, fill the plugs, work the bead around the piece, prime & wax the back welds, treat the outer welds, put the seats in, pull the engine, etc...

Everybody got that?

If I am wrong in my above order, and if there is a better way to do this, PLEASE speak up! That's the whole purpose this restoration "thread" was created.

All I need now is some weather I can safely go out and do stuff. Lately, weather patterns have been following the same basic routine for Fall: clear and 2 degrees Celsius, or pouring rain and 10 degrees Celsius. The weather is supposed to be nice(ish) tomorrow and Friday, so maybe I'll lug the welder out and get something done in the car by then.

The dashboard this car came with is very nice. It's not perfect, but it looks good. A couple imperfections it had that were driving me nuts were several small dents on the curved section behind the steering wheel. I figured out that I could actually iron these dents out using a model airplane heat shrink covering tool I had lying around. After I cranked the knob up to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit, I just worked it over the punctures (NOT SLIDING IT AROUND!), and they slowly disappeared. That is my contribution to the world for today.

I'm starting to notice all the W123s that live locally. Just today, I saw a pristine white 300TD wagon AND a brown 300D Turbo Diesel (no roof rack!). I'm getting inspired by them all...
 

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Discussion Starter #51
(slight) Progress!

Oct. 15 Update:

I had some time to work on Rusty this weekend (finally!), and the weather wasn't bad. As of now, I am waiting for the weather to clear up so that I can tack the first patch in place.

When I first started working:
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Area cleaned up a bit:
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And the first patch panel fitted in place, ready for the next step:
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When it warms up, I will coat the seam areas with some newly-acquired UPOL zinc weld-thru primer and move on. I still want to cut out some of the perforated metal on the outer door sill, to bolster the area around the patch. Again, I am eager to get on with this project, but stuff always seems to get in the way (weather).

When I went to Wesco to pick up the primer, I also got, at the recommendation of the staff there, a quart of something called Zero-Rust. They told me it was much like POR-15, only it cost less due to the elimination of the "brand-name tax". If it is able to be topcoated, I will probably not only apply it to the top of the floor, but maybe as a durable base for rubberized undercoating on the underbody. Has anyone actually used the stuff, or is it just some crummy marketing product?

Stuff is indeed starting to happen, just not at the rate I had expected before starting this project.
I hope to have the floor sealed by the end of the year, but we all know how that's gonna turn out...
 

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Discussion Starter #52
Something came in the mail...
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This posting is hardly useful to this continuity. This is only a "teaser" for things to come, that's how much has happened (or rather, what is going to happen).
 
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