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1978 450SL--117K
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Discussion Starter #1
Some time back a member posted that he thought the wood trim in these cars was cheaply done--I disagreed with him. Over the last few years my neighbor Karl, a Honeywell engineer by day, a woodworker by night, and I have done some serious investigation of these materials. Both with the 560's burled trim and the 450's "Zebrano" (really African Zebra) trim. Here are a few points on it:

1) the "varnish" is not varnish--it is a two part epoxy resin coating. This is why even Marine Stripper will not remove it. It must be removed with a heat gun--very carefully. This was used for not only it's longevity, but also it's resistance to UV rays. This product is still in use and is available at any real paint store. It is not brushed on or sprayed on--it is poured on. one coat of epoxy is at least as thick as 6 coats of ordinary marine grade varnish. In order for it to adhere properly, the surface must be free from all contaminants. That brings up number two.

2) The wood was not stained. This is evidenced in many ways, but most easily when the finish chips from age. When it does, you will instantly see a raw wood w/o stain in it. Traditional staining would not have produced a uniform finish over hundreds and thousands of "units". It would have also made it impossible to apply the epoxy coating--the coating would not uniformly spread out and stick to the oily surface left behind by the stain. Instead (after careful analysis by Karl at work) they used tinted shellac. Shellac will seal anything. It also gives a nice, warm, amber glow to it. Since the "stain" is in the shellac, it never penetrated the wood. It also served the purpose--most importantly, of sealing the wood surface so that the epoxy could spread out uniformly.

3) Solid wood was not used because it warps much faster than veneered plywood. The only solid wood which does not warp is 1/4 sawn oak and other woods. This is not practical in this case. Not because it is expensive, but because it must be very thick to have any effect--at least one inch. Therefore, marine grade plywood was used with a veneer and the epoxy coating. Under the extreme weather conditions a convertible, built to be driven in Winter (hence the hard top) would be put through, this was the most practical and long lasting way to do it.

4) the only I have seen in our two cars is the piece for the climate control panel. This is not a result of poor workmanship--not in our case, but if missing parts. Both the 78 and the 86 utilize the same attachment procedure. The bottom is held in place by the ashtray trim while the top is held in place by two wooden tongues that lock into the radio bracket. This are very pretty "S" shaped tongues that were glued on to the back of the wood trim. Metal was not used as attaching it would have created it's own problems. Sometimes these pieces fall off due to age of glue and other times, I am sure, they are broken off when replacing the stock radio or otherwise going into that part of the dash. Without these pieces, the trim will warp.

On the 560, one was missing and the other popped off with no effort. Both were missing from the 450. Originally I was simply going to cut some new pieces using hard wood and a coping saw. But then Karl has a wonderful sander which could have shaped them easily. That's when Karl took over. He determined that "S" shaped pieces where not steam bent plywood, but instead had been bent and glued by layers in a jig. Karl did not think it feasible to replicate this and stated that simply making them out of solid wood would be too weak to endure the stress of a combination of force (to hold it in place and resist warpage) as well as hot/cold and road vibration. What he did instead was hand select wood where the grain naturally followed the "S" shape. That would provide the most strength while adhering as closely as possible to the original design. In the pic below, you can see the new and the original for the 560's panel. Original is on the right. You can also see the spares he made for me.
 

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1981 380SL
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1) the "varnish" is not varnish--it is a two part epoxy resin coating. This is why even Marine Stripper will not remove it. It must be removed with a heat gun--very carefully.
I wonder if this is accurate for all years. I redid my wood, and was able to strip quite easily using a spray stripper from HD. Perhaps there was a year cutoff when they went to epoxy?
 

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'89 300TE, '79 450SL, '01 ML320
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Yep, three coats of amber shellac gets ya pretty close. I had to make my own ACC panel, ACCII into a '85 console I picked up for my '79.
I used JB Weld for wood to apply the burl veneer to some 5-ply birch, and put it in a press for an hour.
Good enough for who it's for :p


Fish
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I wonder if this is accurate for all years. I redid my wood, and was able to strip quite easily using a spray stripper from HD. Perhaps there was a year cutoff when they went to epoxy?
maybe it was already redone? This is true for both of the 107s we have here--a 1978 and a 1986. both have the same heavy epoxy finish on them. When I first went at the 78's wood, I read other posts here about people who couldn't get the stuff off, so I figured they just weren't using the right stuff. Marine stripper should remove anything--but it didn't even soften this stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yep, three coats of amber shellac gets ya pretty close. I had to make my own ACC panel, ACCII into a '85 console I picked up for my '79.
I used JB Weld for wood to apply the burl veneer to some 5-ply birch, and put it in a press for an hour.
Good enough for who it's for :p


Fish
nice job, Fish. Now get some epoxy.
 

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R/C107 Moderator
1986 560SL: '84 500SL: '84 280SL 5 speed: other 107s
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Would Karl be interested in repairing, veneering and finishing a couple of panels that are rare and NLA? The manual trans console has a larger cut out for the shifter and mine has cutouts for heated seat switches. My euro climate control panel is not even shown in the EPC and no one offers it in the U.S. or ROTW from what I have found.
 

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already have 10 coats of urethane on it, sanded with 600 between coats.
I tried a catalyzed finish last summer on my TE console... it cracked.
I think our climate up here may be to extreme for something that hard. :surrender:




Fish
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Would Karl be interested in repairing, veneering and finishing a couple of panels that are rare and NLA? The manual trans console has a larger cut out for the shifter and mine has cutouts for heated seat switches. My euro climate control panel is not even shown in the EPC and no one offers it in the U.S. or ROTW from what I have found.
I think he would. I will ask him, Jim. He is slow about things--till he figures out what he wants to do, then he goes at it. His first love is wood, the engineering is just a job.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
already have 10 coats of urethane on it, sanded with 600 between coats.
I tried a catalyzed finish last summer on my TE console... it cracked.
I think our climate up here may be to extreme for something that hard. :surrender:

Fish
Trust me, it's worse here. The stuff I used is made to be used outdoors. They use it on exterior bars and whatnot. With 10 coats on there, I'd leave it alone.
 

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1981 380SL
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maybe it was already redone? This is true for both of the 107s we have here--a 1978 and a 1986. both have the same heavy epoxy finish on them. When I first went at the 78's wood, I read other posts here about people who couldn't get the stuff off, so I figured they just weren't using the right stuff. Marine stripper should remove anything--but it didn't even soften this stuff.
Nope. It was VERY original.

I did leave the stripper on for much longer than recommended on the can's instructions though (about an hour). When left on for the recommended time period, it didn't soften the original finish at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Well, all I can say is, you have more patience than I. The heat gun softened it right up and the putty knife peeled it right off. Normal varnish bubbles up right away when the stripper goes on it. Some people claim stripper damages the wood. I can see that where a piece of antique furniture is concerned--but that should never be touched anyway.

Hell, I used multiple coats of Marine grade stripper and left on so long they dried and it never so much as budged. I suppose eventually it would have worked, but, like I said, I have less patience.

I'll have to fix my typos in the original post tomorrow.
 

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R/C107 Moderator
1986 560SL: '84 500SL: '84 280SL 5 speed: other 107s
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I have done some searching today for new and used console wood. Ebay has a few used listed but they most are outrageously priced. Eckler's no longer list them from what I could find. Did not find any other suppliers either.
 

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1984 380 SL
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I have done some searching today for new and used console wood. Ebay has a few used listed but they most are outrageously priced. Eckler's no longer list them from what I could find. Did not find any other suppliers either.
I just purchased mine from Eckler's. Don't know if it's a problem with the model or year...I've got an 84 380SL. They weren't cheap and I had to hand cut one of the pieces that serves the upper a/c panel, my understanding is there were too many variations in that particular piece for them (whoever them is) to cut it, so you are provided a piece to cut yourself. Someone mentioned they had used brand new tin snips, so I gave that a try on the old piece. Not a good idea at all. They crushed the wood and cracked the shellac finish. And the snips were brand new. I found using a dremel with a cutting blade and then a sanding round was the way to go. The originals have a slight curve and small tit on each end, I couldn't duplicate the little tits but got the curve okay. The buttons hide the ends anyway. I will take a look for the catalog later if you or anyone else is interested. I want to say it was about $400 for the entire set. Quite pricey but the only ones I could find.
 

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1984 380 SL
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Rowdie is right that Eckler's is not listing the parts online, which is odd. I have a paper catalog and punched in the part number online and got the full set price:
Mercedes® 380SL Complete Interior Burlwood Kit | WDK-107B5
$539.00 (ouch, I know I just bought it)

So, if you need the interior kit for 107 chassis 1978-1985 let me know and I'll post the link here for each set, or go ahead and request a catalog from them. They're in the paper catalog.
(also have the 113, 124 201 and 221 chassis)
 

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R/C107 Moderator
1986 560SL: '84 500SL: '84 280SL 5 speed: other 107s
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Now to find my old catalog. Thanks for pointing that out.:thumbsup:
 

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1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL R107
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Wood Console Trim And Warpage

Hi All,

I'm the dude who thought the wood trim was remarked by the original post as "poor quality". Actually it's not so much the veneer was regarded as poor quality - it isn't by any stretch - but my comment was focused more towrds the overall panel construction. And now that I'm reading that originally this climate control panel had tabs which fit into the bottom mounting area of the radio it makes good sense how and why the overall construction was carried out. Seems moving forward that it would be possible to replacate those tabs for sheer functionality rather than authenticity without too much difficulty. I know that my tabs are long, long gone which obviously facilitated the corner warpage I have. Fortunately the warp is not that severe and my suspcion is that my making solid and durable tabs which can be securely mounted with multi-ton epoxy may keep the panel from warping any further!

One final observation: the backing of the wood veneer panels in my Jaguar XJ is metal and not wood. No warpage there.........
-George-
 

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1984 380 SL
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Hi All,

Seems moving forward that it would be possible to replacate those tabs for sheer functionality rather than authenticity without too much difficulty. I know that my tabs are long, long gone which obviously facilitated the corner warpage I have. Fortunately the warp is not that severe and my suspcion is that my making solid and durable tabs which can be securely mounted with multi-ton epoxy may keep the panel from warping any further!

One final observation: the backing of the wood veneer panels in my Jaguar XJ is metal and not wood. No warpage there.........
-George-
I hope it was within this thread I saw the bit about making your own tabs. If not here then it's in the germanica sticky. Anyhow, the recommendation is to find wood with a similar s grain in it if you will be using a single piece. My memory is not great but I think I read the originals were made gluing multiple pieces to allow for vibration during driving. A solid wood will crack, but if you can find wood with a grain following that shape it should hold up better.
 

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R/C107 Moderator
1986 560SL: '84 500SL: '84 280SL 5 speed: other 107s
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Thread Hijack. This is the wood on the 280SL 5 speed. The plastic mount for the AC panel has the tabs molded in. The wood AC panel is metal backed. (Take that jaguar). The console wood is damaged between the switches. Note the shifter opening for the 5 speed is larger than auto. That is my 560SL panel for comparison. I was thing about buying a new console piece for the 560, if I can find one, and using the 560 on the 280.
 

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