Author Topic: Restoration Difficulty Level  (Read 674242 times)

andyburns

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Restoration Difficulty Level
« on: April 15, 2013, 02:18:29 »
Hi all,

I am a rank amateur in terms of car restoration having refurbished a couple of W108's in my own garage.  Last year I took on a 1963 230sl thinking it would be about the same level of difficulty as the previous cars I have attempted.

I cant really put a finger on it but everything with this car seems to be either fiddly or much more difficult to get right resulting in vast sums of time an money being spent.   

Little things that I thought would take minutes, like the seized hinges, have taken days to resolve.  The only rust I have encountered seems to be in ridiculously hard to work on places.  Hairline stress cracks in the door frame.  The list goes on and on.

I am interested to here from other home restorers to see if this is a common experience or if I have just hit a 'bad luck' car.

I am sure I will get a really nice little sl out of the process but am starting to wonder if the reward will be worth the effort.

Cheers

Andy
Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car

andyburns

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2013, 02:29:40 »
Also interested to see what you guys thing about restored pristine examples over usable drivable ones.  I think I may have made a mistake in that after I purchased my 230 I couldn't resist but take bits off it before I had even driven 20 miles.   One part led to 2000.

I really wish I had driven it for a year now.  Perhaps I would have enjoyed it so much I may not have contemplated the restoration.  The attached pic is the day I purchased it.
Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car

DaveB

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2013, 03:10:45 »
I really wish I had driven it for a year now.  Perhaps I would have enjoyed it so much I may not have contemplated the restoration.

That's quite possibly right but obviously too late now :) But it will be better to drive with all the new mechanicals, and you get to address the tricky rust sooner rather than later. I've read many times of people doing high level restorations and subsequently being worried to drive or park the car for fear of damage or theft. But they rarely go as far as saying they regret the restoration. I like Jay Leno's philosophy: "I like to restore a car to 98 or 100 points, then drive it down to 10 or 20 points and, if you really want to, restore it again."

I guess the differences between the SL and the 108 (aluminium panels, frameless windows, hardtop, soft top) will all increase the level of difficulty somewhat. No difference otherwise, except perhaps that SLs tend to get restored to a higher level.
DaveB
'65 US 230sl 4-speed, DB190

andyburns

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2013, 03:32:20 »
Dave,  I am sure your right and when its finished the memory of the toil will be long forgotten.  I think I am just at that point of 'when the hell is this going to be over'.  Think when the top coat is applied and bits start going back in I will feel better about it.
Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car

kampala

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2013, 05:17:25 »
Andy,

Incredible ... you have taken it all the way ... looks amazing.  During most exhaustive long-term projects (in life & work in general) many of us hit this wall ... some know they will hit it and actually put together a packet before starting the project and expect to open this packet when they hit the wall ... the packet contains items of inspiration that made one want to take this on in the first place and usually a letter of encouragement to oneself. 

You need to find why you took it on ... and this will get you over the hump.   A few of us were just at the Essen Classic Car Event in Germany this weekend and seeing pristine cars is incredibly inspiring if one is in the restoration process.  It may help to refuel your drive by seeing some really nicely done cars.  A real shot in the arm.

At least your findings are surprises in difficulty or complexity and not surprises of the extreme rusty kind ... you are way ahead of many.

Best of luck and continue sharing ... it will help us and yourself ... great photos.
Oz
250sl - later - manual
280sl - 1971 - Auto - Limited Slip Diff.

stickandrudderman

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2013, 06:43:58 »
For what it's worth I estimate that to restore a rotten shell properly (new sills, wings & floors) involves around 300 hours drilling, welding & fabricating plus another 300 hours prepping and painting.
This is for someone who doesn't have to do any head-scratching so you might want to add a head-scratching supplement of say 50% and you'll see that 900 hours is not impossible.
Now, let's say you spend 10 hours per week doing this in your spare time (in which case you are probably single or soon will be), then you can see that it'll take you the best part of two years just to do the shell. If you know this in advance then you stand a better chance of seeing the job through with as much enthusiasm as you had at the start!

andyburns

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2013, 10:10:07 »
That estimate of 900 hours is probably quite close to the truth.  I am almost embarrassed at the disproportionate amounts of time I have already spent.  The interior is probably sitting at 200 hours alone.  I couldn't afford to sandblast the shell so have been hand sanding back to bare metal.  The underside of the dash board almost broke me.  There are so many difficult to get to nooks and crannies.   I have blown two coats of epoxy primer and still have one more primers coat and then the top coat.  Each requiring me to get in and sand the entire surface from scratch. 

The engine bay wasn't far behind.  I still have to pull the sub frame out and repeat the paint process for the under side surfaces.   

I have been working on ali soft top cover in the last two days.  I started off thinking it would be a quick distraction from the sanding but ended up taking almost three full days to 'get right'.  Ended up using paint stripper as I do want to take sand paper near the ali.  It had about four coats of paint which took ages to get off.

Then discovered that there was a couple of dents bogged over where someone had dropped the hard top at some point.  The dents wern't bad and had been hidden well with the body filler but because I had used paint stripper which had soaked the filler I had to remove it and start again from scratch.  Almost pulled my hair out.  I have never been that good at icing cakes.  About seven skim coats latter I think I have nailed it.   Probably would have taken a skilled panel beater 10 minutes.

Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car

andyburns

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2013, 10:51:13 »


Andy,

Incredible ... you have taken it all the way ... looks amazing.  During most exhaustive long-term projects (in life & work in general) many of us hit this wall ... some know they will hit it and actually put together a packet before starting the project and expect to open this packet when they hit the wall ... the packet contains items of inspiration that made one want to take this on in the first place and usually a letter of encouragement to oneself. 

You need to find why you took it on ... and this will get you over the hump.   A few of us were just at the Essen Classic Car Event in Germany this weekend and seeing pristine cars is incredibly inspiring if one is in the restoration process.  It may help to refuel your drive by seeing some really nicely done cars.  A real shot in the arm.

At least your findings are surprises in difficulty or complexity and not surprises of the extreme rusty kind ... you are way ahead of many.

Best of luck and continue sharing ... it will help us and yourself ... great photos.

Thanks for the compliments.   I envy the hell out of you for being able to attend events in Germany.   I can only but imagine.  Would love to get over once in my life and check out the factory.

A big part of my feelings about the car at the moment are to do with missing out on the 50th celebrations.  I really stuffed up and thought that 5 months would be long enough.  I lost my job before xmas so am pretty much working on the car full time for the past 3 months.  If I had a solid income I would probably do things differently (like getting the shell blasted rather than finger sanding it). Looking at the progress its really frustrating on progress.
Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car

Benz Dr.

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2013, 12:31:53 »
Never take a car apart unless you have both the time and money to see it through. You're much better off driving it and doing a little bit at a time or one project each winter than never driving it for years.

 The further you go back in production the more difficult the restoration. Think 540K, 300Sc, 300SL, 190SL, 113, 107...........
1966 230SL 5 speed, LSD, header pipes, 300SE distributor, ported, polished and balanced, AKA  ''The Red Rocket ''
Dan Caron's SL Barn

Kayvan

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2013, 16:25:58 »
900 hours?  ::)

Try 22 years...I rolled up to my SL in 1991 and had a cool Gin & Tonic with seller & his wife at his posh NYC Beekman Place Penthouse

The two happiest days in a 113 SL owners life are when he buys it and when he runs out of money.

andyburns

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2013, 19:26:20 »
Never take a car apart unless you have both the time and money to see it through. You're much better off driving it and doing a little bit at a time or one project each winter than never driving it for years.

 The further you go back in production the more difficult the restoration. Think 540K, 300Sc, 300SL, 190SL, 113, 107...........

Dr Benz, I am definitely not going to give up.  I have given myself another 6 months to get it back together bringing total restoration time to 11 months.  I disagree with the money aspect as it depends on your restoration philosophy.  I am definitely not a buy it out of the packet sort of restorer.  By that I mean before I simply go and order the factory part I will always (within reason) give fixing the old or worn part a go.  I suppose this is where the time soak goes.

A good example of this is the indicator stalk on the 230.  When I got the car it just wouldn't hold its indent.  I stripped the unit apart and found that the leading face was worn.  Carefully I welded a bead onto the worn area and used a couple of very fine files to reproduce the original shape.  I probably isn't perfect but now functions ok.  A new one was 600US which I just couldn't afford
Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car

andyburns

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2013, 19:28:35 »
900 hours?  ::)

Try 22 years...I rolled up to my SL in 1991 and had a cool Gin & Tonic with seller & his wife at his posh NYC Beekman Place Penthouse

The two happiest days in a 113 SL owners life are when he buys it and when he runs out of money.

Hi Kayvan,

If I take 22 years my wife will leave me taking half of all my toys including the pagoda.  Probably the biggest incentive to get it finished  :D

Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car

Kayvan

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2013, 20:00:12 »
Based on level of work ur doing.........its going to be immaculate!

That collor is very unique too


andyburns

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2013, 20:53:11 »
Based on level of work ur doing.........its going to be immaculate!

That collor is very unique too



Just a tidy runner.  None of the cars I have done have ever been show cars.  Just get them as far back to original as I possibly can within my skill set.  There are a few guys here in New Zealand that produce incredible world class restorations that make mine look stupid.  Take a look at this guy.  He just finished a beautiful early 230sl which won all sorts of awards (see photo) and he is also currently restoring one of only 20 or so aluminum gull wings.  Take a look at his site http://www.lloydmarx.co.nz/

All I have done is tried to copy what these guys do.  I am sure the work I do seems very amateur to them!

The color of my car is a huge sticking point as well.  It was originally MB519G light red.  The previous owner has painted it a light non factory gold color.  Problem is I really like the color.  Sort of suits the car.  I had decided to keep it and started buying carpet and interior bits and pieces to suit but have since sort of decided that I want a factory shade.    Its a real pity as the gold with the light interior looks really nice.

I am tending on either putting it back to original or painting it 180g silver gray and keeping the light interior.  I have only seen this combination once and don't think it would have been on Mercedes 'recommended' list  Take a look at the last picture and let me know your thoughts.
Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car


andyburns

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Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car

andyburns

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2013, 07:02:20 »
Another example of the unexpected issues these cars can throw at the uninitiated restorer.  When I took my doors off I noticed a previous repair had been done to the door frame around the lower hinge where the frame had cracked.  I didn't think anything more of it until I took the hinges off ready to strip the door jams of paint.  All the hinges were stiff with the bottom two being almost seized.  On closer inspection the hinge pin in the same door that had been repaired had been sheared in half.  Obviously the hinges have never been lubricated since the factory with at least 3 layers of paint in the grease port.  The cracked door frame and broken hinge were obviously a result of the hinge seizing and one of the past owners swinging on the door to try and 'free' the problem.  The issue here is that the first of the 230's bore a very unique and different lubrication system that was only carried on for a year or so before Mercedes abandoned it.  I tried to source a new hinge but tried as I might couldn't track down either a second hand or new item.  The only solution was to manufacture a one off pin.  Its not just a standard pin but a center drilled rod with a helix grove machined around it diameter to deliver grease down the pin.  Also a small cross drilled hole to deliver the grease to the helix had to be machined.  Just another example of the additional quirks of these cars. 
Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car

zoegrlh

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2013, 11:52:13 »
Had my 280SL 11 years now.  Was in a slow restoration for 9 of those years, whereas I still have a driver to drive each of those years in the spring/summer.  All my restoration was during the winter months.  Each year, I would select an area in the car to restore, ie. engine, interior, paint, chassis, wheels, tires, etc.  The last thing I did was exhaust system.  Had to decide if I was to go with the original MB system or the aftermarket SS systems.  I now show this car in AACA meets, which look for originality, so you guessed it, I went with MB parts.  In fact over the course of the 9 years, all my parts were MB parts.  I name my SL "BCW" this stands for Booze and Cheap Women.  When people ask me where has ALL my money gone, I say booze and cheap women.  Little do they know.  You know to this day, I have not counted up my receipts, I'm afraid to.
 
Anyway, just think of the restoration process as a trip thru life, with many pitfalls.  Hey, but think of all the stories you can tell when the restoration is complete.  I now never run out of words at a car show when someone comes up to me and asks me how difficult was it to restore.

Bob
 
Robert Hyatt
Williamsburg, VA.

W113, 1970 280SL, Red leather 242 on Silver Gray Met. 180, 4-speed stick, Euro spec, restored
R170, 2003 SLK230 Kompresser, Charcoal leather 211 on Firemist Red Met. 548, 5-speed auto
W211, 2007 E320 Bluetec, Cashmere MB Tex 144 on Arctic White 650, 7 speed auto

andyburns

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2013, 16:26:29 »
Hey Bob,

I would love to see some pics of your restoration.  Sounds as if you have poured you soul into it.
Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car

Ulf

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2013, 08:43:35 »
I actually think the DB180 silver with the beige interior is rather cool, but would probably go for a darker metallic grey if possible - perhaps 178H (medium grey) or 172G (anthracite) :-)
1965 230 SL in silver (DB180)
1982 Land Rover Series III SWB
2008 BMW 352d coupe
2005 Mini Cooper

andyburns

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #20 on: May 14, 2013, 20:13:20 »
Spent the last three weeks working on the soft top well and boot/trunk.  What a job.  Stripped off all the factory tar matting which takes quite a while.  Then used chemical strippers to take off the paint.  I have used chemicals on the entire body as I have had nasty experiences with sand/media blasting.   Definitely the chemicals are the hard way to go but as I am in my own garage its the only option.  The stripping alone took 4 solid days.  Getting into all the nooks and crannies is a nightmare.  The boot was especially arduous as you have to deal with all the fumes in a very enclosed space.  Then a quick sand with 320grit and liberal doses of a rust converter/zinc coating agent.  Finally 2 good coats of a two pot epoxy primer with a rust inhibitor built in.   This was a bit of a nightmare as well.  Quite a bit of time spent was curled up in the boot spraying, scraping and sanding  Dare say it now has ten fold the rust protection it left the factory with.  Stripping the car back to bare metal by hand has given me quite an insight into exactly why these puppies rusted so badly.  The factory paint seemed to be quite thin in places with just a top coat over the panel protection coatings.
Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car

andyburns

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Headlight notch
« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2013, 08:57:35 »
Decided that I wanted to put these features back on the car before painting.  Man what a nightmare.  All in all took over 12 hours to get a decent result.  Watched a few you tube videos on leading and decided to give it a go.  I didn't know exactly what profile to shoot for but think the it should be the same profile as the matching panel line on the side of the guard.  Looked at dozens of photos on the web of different factory notches but none were detailed enough to give 100% certainty.  If anyone has original notches I would really appreciate close up's with some accurate measurements to confirm my suspicions.  I will post some more photos when I finish up and have sanded back with 800 grit sandpaper and primed.  Will hang off painting for a couple of days to see if any of you guys can confirm my assumptions. 

Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car

stickandrudderman

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #22 on: May 25, 2013, 09:59:12 »
They vary a lot. The main thing is for you to offer up your headlight chrome to get the notch to line up with it and to match the contours.

andyburns

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2013, 10:08:12 »
I think I have the alignment spot on.  I would love any of you with the original notches to post some photos :)
Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car

andyburns

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Re: Restoration Difficulty Level
« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2013, 09:57:58 »
Looking back at my purchase photos and wondering what the hell I am doing.  Attached photo the night I got the car 9 months ago.  Car is a few days from finishing the final paint prep.  Will post some pics of the prepared shell if anyone is interested.  Still not 100 percent sure of my color choice.  White, Silver or Gold???????
Andy Burns, Auckland New Zealand
1963 230sl
1967 250s w108
1969 BMW 2002
2007 Mitsubishi i car