Author Topic: W11x Reupholstering W111 250SE Coupe door and rear quarter panel caps  (Read 1858 times)


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Today's project was to replace the leather covers on the door caps, and rear quarter panel caps. I used cognac leather from World Upholstery & Trim.

I'm looking forward to having the seats correctly reupholstered. They were in really bad condition when I purchased the car, having been cheaply redone in a vinyl that was faded and brittle. The current "bamboo" colored vinyl was all I could afford at the time. It's an eye-sore, at best, but better than what was previously there.


Here's how I did it.  This was my first time working with leather, and first time doing this job.

These are instructions for the W111 Coupe, and I don't know if it's the same or similar for other models:

1) I ordered cognac leather from World Upholstery & Trim.  It's sold by half-a-hide, and full hide.

2) The glue used was:  "Sprayway Fast Tack 92" in an aerosol can.  The directions on the can say to shake the can 10 seconds, coat both surfaces, and let them dry for a minimum of 5min.  After that, you have up to 1hr to join them together.

3) Door caps:
a) To remove the door caps, roll down the window and remove the 3 small philips head screws from the upper end plate at the rear of the door, then pull off the end plate.  Remove a few of the philips head screws from the upper area of the front end plate, at the front of the door.  Push that upper area of the plate away from the door cap, just enough that the door cap is no longer trapped by it, and can be lifted up, out of the door.

b) The door caps and the rear panel caps are held down into the body, by a few spring loaded, metal tabs.  So grab the cap as best you can, and pull it up, maybe in a rocking motion.  For example, if you get the rear portion of it lifting up a little, you can slide something in under it, and help pry up.  WARNING!!!  THE CAPS ARE THIN ALUMINUM AND BEND VERY EASY.  DON'T PRY UP TOO HARD, AND DON'T POUND THEM BACK DOWN INTO THE DOOR OR REAR PANEL WITH CONCENTRATED FORCE, LIKE USING YOUR FIST LIKE A HAMMER....YOU WILL POUND DENTS INTO THEM, WHICH WILL SHOW UP THROUGH THE UPHOLSTERY!!!

4)Rear panel caps:
a) Remove the seat bottom.  It just lifts up at the front, and then pull it forward.  You don't take it out.  Open the trunk and remove the two 6mm nuts and washers from the studs that secure the rear seat back rest to the body.  Get back in the car and pull the top of the seat "into" the car.  Jockey the bottom of the seatback and the top of the seatback "into the car" in order to expose the single philips head screw that holds the very rear "tail" section of the rear panel cap, into the B-pillar.  Remove the tiny philips head screws from the upper cap in the door jamp (above the striker), and pull off that plate.  The rear panel cap can now be pried/lifted up and out, by raising the front area of it first, and not bending that tail area, freeing the whole thing, and pulling it forward, towards the front of the car, so that tail area clears the B-pillar.

5) Removing the chrome trim strip from the caps:
The chrome trim strip is pressed on, and then crimped into slots in the aluminum of the cap.  Using a suitable flat blade screw driver, and place the blade between the base of the chrome trim strip (on it's back side where it's crimped, NOT ON THE DECORATIVE SIDE) and the frame of the cap.  Use good pressure, and twist the blade, so that it starts to raise the trim strip a little.  This takes about 5min, but work your way long the entire length, back and forth, prying in small amounts.  It's like opening a can of house paint.   Once you get it free, prep it for installation by using the screw driver wedged in the slot of the chrome trim strip, to widen the slot a little, and widen back out, those crimped areas.  The leather you buy has not been skimmed on the back side, to make it thinner, as was done at the factory, so you have to widen that channel a bit.  No big deal.

6) Prepping the caps:
Peel off the old leather.  Use a wire brush to aggressively scrub the cap as clean as possible, to remove all the old glue and leather residue, from all glued areas.  Then scrub again with some flavor of steel wool.  I used #0000 because I had it on hand, but a more aggressive version would have worked better.  I use #0000 for cleaning automotive glass, chrome, and SOME stainless, so I always have a bag. If the cap is dented or bent at the ends, straighten it as best you can.  I used a long screwdriver to reach into mine, and push upward, then I used the screwdriver handle to pound the areas I'd raised, back down into their correct shape.  Then I straightened the ends.  Spray the cap with glue, on all surfaces, including inside the open ends, where the leather will touch.  Set the cap aside.

7) Cut the leather:
Lay the new leather, "good side" down.  Lay the old leather, "good side" down, onto the new leather, and trace the old piece of leather, liberally (somewhat wider than the old leather, so that you have some extra material to work with), using a ball point pen.  My leather was very brittle and had center areas completely rotted away and missing, so I crushed it as flat as possible, held it down with a knee, kept it flat with my left hand, and drew round it.  Then moved my left and hand to a new section and drew around that.  Give yourself excess because you want the leather to wrap both vertical sides of the cap, as one side gets the chrome trim slide up over it, trapping the leather in place, and the other side is very visible through the window, both up, and down, so you want it to look finished.

Cut the leather with a really nice pair of scissors.  They need to be strong and sharp.  I guess you could also use a construction/utility knife, if you had something under the leather that you could cut against.

8 ) Prep and install the leather:
Spray the back side of the leather with adhesive and let it sit 5min.

9) Attach the leather:
Lay the leather glued side facing up, on a clean, smooth surface (I used my kitchen countertop).  Hold the cap, TOP SIDE FACING DOWN, get it lined up with the leather, so that you can visually see that when you wrap the leather upward, around the cap, the leather will make it around the entire cap, and fully cover those vertical sides that I mentioned above.

Rest the cap lightly onto the leather.  DON'T PUSH DOWN YET because you can still move the cap around a little, to get better alignment.  Again, make sure your alignment is pretty good.  Once you have it aligned, press the cap into the leather.  The cap is curved so rock the cap back and forth, to glue the leather in place.

Now you can begin to smooth out that freshly glued area, AND start to carefully wrap the leather around the cap, and along the vertical sides.

I used the end of a butter knife blade, to force the leather to crease itself into the "corner" shape, along the underside of the cap.  Picture the cross section of a mushroom.  You've just wrapped leather across the top cap of the mushroom, and now you want to pull the leather tighter, go under the cap of the mushroom, but you want the leather to fully go under the cap, and hit that corner, where the mushroom stem meets the underside of the cap.... before the leather glues itself to the stem, at an angle.  So I used the butter knife to force the leather down onto the underside of the cap, making a nice crease line, and then I let the leather touch and glue itself to that vertical part of the cap.

This gluing is all done with the cap upside down, onto the leather, on the clean work surface.

Trim the leather with scissors, along the vertical edges.  At each end of the cap, the leather should roll inside the cap, so cut V's in it, as you see the factory did.  I used a pair of "Dykes" (wire cutters) because they made those close cuts easier than scissors.

10) Final step is to put the chrome trim on: 
Just slide it onto the aluminum cap, and tap it down as far as it will go, with a screwdriver handle, or rubber hammer (or nylon hammer).  If it wants to pinch and push the leather off, us your screwdriver to widen the gap a little more.  Once fully pushed down, lay the trim against the edge of something, and use your screwdriver to pound those crimped areas back into position, in the slots on the aluminum cap, so that the chrome trim is locked in place.

11) Finish the job:
At this point you're done, and you can put the car back together.

It's a ton of instruction, but honestly, once you get rolling, it will take about 15-20min per cap.  It goes really fast.  If you let the glue dry for the 5min, the bond will be instant, and near impossible to break.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2022, 22:35:54 by Todd »


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Nice work!.  It looks like the door and rear quarter panel caps are Cognac leather so presumably you will replace bamboo vinyl seat covers with cognac leather as well. That will be a beautiful color combination.  Lee
Lee Backus
1963 220SE Cabriolet
1970 280SL (reassembling - hopefully soon)
1978 450SL (disassembled for paint)
1985 500SEC


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Yes!  The car was originally done in cognac. 

I'm currently working on having a carpet kit made, and am collecting samples.  After that, it will be a kit for the seats.  Recovering the door and rear panels is also on the list...and of course, dash wood and leather.  Really wanted to go for the cognac velour carpet that Putt-Georgi shows, but I don't know of any good upholstery shops in my area who I'd trust with the work.  All of the old school guys that used to do interior work for me, have retired.  So at this point, the plan is to use World Upholstery & Trim, because they DO create the kits for carpet and seats, and while it may not be "100 point" OE correct, it will still be 1000 times better than what's in the car.

The laundry list for this car's needs is looooooooong, so I'm picking my way through it, as I'm able to afford the next step.  Having the roof and trunk painted, and finishing the car's mechanical issues (dragging brakes, leaking clutch slave, and failing tires) has given me motivation to do more.  I'm currently having a set of 3 point seatbelts made by seatbeltplanet.  It'll be nice to have more than just the inertia lap belts from a W114 in it.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2022, 22:19:10 by Todd »


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The cognac carpet I have found is not quite the same as original. The reddish speckle tint is too brown. But was the only one I could find in a kit. Still as you say, better than what i have now. Once installed, you wouldn't know unless you compare it to an original piece.
'68 280SE W111 coupe
'60 220SE W128 coupe
'70 Plymouth Roadrunner 440+6


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A year or 2 after buying my car, a guy followed me into a parking lot (I was driving my coupe), and wanted to tell me about the '67 W111, sunroof, four-on-the-floor coupe that he had.  I wound up buying it.  He'd purchased it used, in Germany while in the military, and had it shipped back to the States.  It was 100% original, so I got to see what the correct cognac leather interior, carpeting, and dash wood was supposed to look like.

So yes.  Nothing's going to be 100% correct, but all said and done, any of the close choices offered by the vendors who are supporting the cars, is going to look great, IMO.  The owner of Putt Georgi turned me on to an upholstery shop in San Diego that he's been dealing with for 40yrs.  I called them and am waiting to hear back tomorrow, on whether they still have the patterns.  If so, it would be my preference to use the Putt Georgi carpet, if I can find someone to make the kit (and have it not look like it was done by some schlock shop for $99.99).
« Last Edit: August 02, 2022, 02:02:35 by Todd »