Well, I finally had the time and weather to go out and make use of it all. The past few days have been beautiful, but I have spent those working on Hans' (see future thread in W124 forum) sunroof.
We've been living without for a long time, and as a result, our "buildings" are in need of repair. With the fine weather and the planetary medical quarantine, I was able to prepare our garage somewhat for its inevitable demolition, as well as get a few things done on Rusty. We had to move the car out of the way so that I could start ripping up the roofing without having detritus fall all over the car (similar to undercoating on Rusty, the asphalt paper was all that was holding the roof together).
Rusty out of the way, with Hans watching. Note the Christmas lights and the headliner hanging down.
Having accomplished what I wanted on the garage that day, I decided that I had to get the rest of Rusty's headliner out, for which I had multiple reasons. One, I really wanted to reduce the risk of welding sparks getting caught in it. Two, I wanted access to the whole sunroof cassette for future repairs. Three, I was going to replace it anyway, as it was actually quite brittle in some areas. Four, I need to remove the rear window anyway for more rust repairs, and to replace the window seal. Good enough?
Next, I needed access to the bottom of the radiator, so I pulled it. It's not as hard as it sounds, especially when somebody says, "I pulled the whole radiator out of a car once!"
I was pleasantly surprised how clean the coolant was, I guess the previous owner cared about that at least.
And the radiator is out. Is it just me, or is that lower crossmember slightly crooked? Oh well, more work.
And lastly, I disconnected the parking brake pedal so that I could have access to the full glory of another rust hole. Oh, and the wiring shouldn't be too much of a problem either!
That's what I've got today, but next I'm going to pull the fuel tank, maybe within the next few days. I might also risk removing the front and rear windscreen, but that's something I think I'll need some professional input on when the time comes.
Lately, with all that has been happening in the world, I have become increasingly concerned about the future of this project and the future of other W123s out there in the world. Specifically, parts support.
For me, not much tops the disappointment of discovering that a vital component or part needed for your restoration (or daily driver) is now officially NLA. Yep, you're on your own. With that stab through the mind complete, I am left with the option of trying to locate a functional used part, or go aftermarket (ugh). The way I see these cars, they were so well engineered and so unkillable, owners saw that as an invitation to abuse the car, to run it into the ground with very little maintenance performed. As a result, so many of these cars that would be worthy for parts donation have components that aren't really in better shape than what I already have. As for aftermarket, I have found that many companies (URO Parts, by definition) do not have sufficient material quality or tolerances associated with an OEM component. So, what is the solution? Hoard new-old-stock parts, after which we will inevitably deplete, leaving our cars to slowly die? Fund manufacturing companies to produce small-batch parts at unobtainably high prices? Should we simply cease the use of these cars, junk them all, and move on? I don't know what the answer is, but the future of parts support for the W123 is definitely worrying me.
I am not too worried about my own car, rather the future of the W123 in general. Indeed, I have seen some incredible custom part fabrications done, but that somewhat reduces the usability aspect of your typical "casual" W123 owner (or taxi driver) who may lack the means or motivation to custom-manufacture a part required to keep their car functional or safe enough for regular use. For example, I can 3D print essentially any plastic or rubber component I will ever need. The "casual" owner might be turned off by this method and not deem the car realistic to keep maintaining (or owning) anymore.
I really don't know where I'm going with this. Carry on.
Owning an '85 300CD I know the feeling. I have a question though. When you call or visit your local MB dealer and they look up a part and tell you it is NLA are they accessing all of the dealership inventories nationwide? And then what about the Classic Car Center in California?
I have the same issue getting certain parts for my older 240 series Volvos and 80's BMWs, so it isn't unique to Mercedes.
I have the same concern about the future of cars for the same reasons you say, but I think there alternatives to be exploited like 3D printing, CNC machining and others.
As for aftermarket parts. I have used lots of aftermarket parts and rarely had an issue with them. They all fit, perform the way they are supposed to and even last years. I have a Uro window seal that is over 4 years old and looks like new, doesn’t leak and an Uro antenna mast that’s been there for years and works perfectly.
The only bad aftermarket parts that I bought were Lemfoerder engine mounts that turned out to be rubbish (collapsed within 3 days, allow excessive movement and now one of them is torn after over a year of use (no fluids have leaked over it). Those mounts supposedly, are the same that MB dealers sell and yet quality was poor.
I think aftermarket parts, while not as good as the original parts, are better than most of the NOS parts, especially when they are rubber parts. An old genuine seal is going to last less than a cheap new seal because of the age.
And even if aftermarket parts don’t last as long, that is not a big issue since most older cars are not been daily driven a lot anymore.
Okay, it's not as bad as I thought before. It looks like most OEM parts are indeed still available, with the majority of NLA parts easily obtainable as functional aftermarket parts. As some have previously discussed, it would be universally better to have an aftermarket part that gets the job done versus an original part that doesn't. Besides, I think that these cars have enough of an owner base that even if retail were to dump the W123 altogether, people would find a way to keep them alive. 3D printing, CAD/CAM, component adaptation, there are always options. My concerns have been mostly nullified.
I have been temporarily forced to walk away from Rusty for a bit due to a sudden change in our weather. A minor hurricane swept through and did serious damage to the old rotten wood framework of a garage that Rusty currently resides inside of (due to a lack of space, I have nowhere else to put the car). Fortunately, very little damage occurred to the car, not that it would have made anything worse. However, I will have some relatively major debris removal work to do on this structure before I can continue with the car project. The weather has been cold and unpleasant since the first event, which I predict to remain that way for a couple more months. I'll keep working on the car, but it likely won't be major stuff until the poor weather has passed.
Lately, I have been tossing around the idea of finding a clean W123 body, parted out or scrapped, instead of continuing on the largely impractical task of attempting to repair the body that I have, at least for this project. I then would swap out Rusty's mechanical components and interior, and keep the rusty body to be repaired another day. I haven't made the jump to that conclusion yet, but I am leaving it as one of my many options.
Hi fellow MB lovers,
First of all, thank you all for all the good information you have accumulated on these forums over all these years. The enthusiasm for older cars cannot exist without the people on this and other forums.
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