Author Topic: Aftermarket grille star  (Read 5102 times)

lurtch

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Aftermarket grille star
« on: December 28, 2022, 18:13:51 »
Hello All,

I just happened upon this listing on the Adsitco website. If any of you has any specific knowledge of this particular part  - - please post a reply?    (and please - no diatribes about non M-B parts)

One of the last things remaining on my restoration is the grille star assembly. I refuse to pay
a thousand dollars for one of these, but I might spring for 600.

Larry in CA
Larry Hemstreet  in  N. Cal.

1966  230SL  Met. Anthracite w/ Maroon leather
1981  300TDT (Concours, 86K w/ GETRAG 5sp)
1982  300TDT (rough and rusty)
1986  560SEC (totaled)
1991  300TE (gifted)
1998  E320 (sold)
2004  E320 wagon (gifted)
2008  CLK550 cabriolet

dirkbalter

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Re: Aftermarket grille star
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2022, 20:04:53 »
Larry,
Can’t help you with the Adsico one but I needed a new one too and bought it from Vintage. Also around $600. My original is broken. It’s not bad at all. I would call it 95%.
(Might be of interest)
Good luck
Dirk
66 230 SL
70 280 SEL
53 CHEVY 3100
18 C300 COUPE
05 HD FLSTNI

mdsalemi

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Re: Aftermarket grille star
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2022, 15:39:41 »
One of the last things remaining on my restoration is the grille star assembly. I refuse to pay
a thousand dollars for one of these, but I might spring for 600.

Larry, this is always something that makes me laugh. Not at your expense.

When my car was restored, my restorer had a used grill star/barrel he sold me for something like $100. It was "OK" but no better.
A couple of years later, I found a mostly good one for about $300 on eBay. Bought it. Aside from a tiny bit of chrome flaking in one corner, and being a bit dull, it was great.
A year or two after that, some member here (long forgotten I'm afraid) offered me a NOS one in the box for $300. I sent him the money in a heartbeat. At the time they were available from the Classic Center for about $600. Lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth from those needing them. I put the other one on eBay and sold it for well over $300.
Not too long after the OEM price at the Classic Center was $1,200.

Tom Hanson told me a couple of years ago that the last one of the OEM stock ones that the Classic Center sold was $2,200.

So if you can get anything reasonable for $600...think twice about turning it down.

On a similar note, there's nothing that will get the MB lawyers after you than tinkering with their intellectual property. It happens fast.
Some years back there was someone selling rough brass castings of the star. It needed a lot of filing and handwork/polishing before plating. The lawyers shut them down...

So if anyone mentioned in this thread is selling reproductions, they won't be for long...
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2023 Ford Maverick Lariat Hybrid "Area 51"
2022 Ford Escape Hybrid
2023 Ford Escape Hybrid

dirkbalter

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Re: Aftermarket grille star
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2022, 16:37:50 »

So if anyone mentioned in this thread is selling reproductions, they won't be for long...

I see them being sold all over the place. E-bay, Facebook, local vendors….
Considering the MB prices, I think the only question that concerns most of us, is the quality compared to the original.
All these are made oversees in Vietnam, Taiwan  …. Some better some worse.
I doubt theses manufacturers are worried about the MB lawyers.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2022, 16:50:06 by dirkbalter »
Dirk
66 230 SL
70 280 SEL
53 CHEVY 3100
18 C300 COUPE
05 HD FLSTNI

mdsalemi

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Re: Aftermarket grille star
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2022, 00:32:33 »
I see them being sold all over the place. E-bay, Facebook, local vendors….
Considering the MB prices, I think the only question that concerns most of us, is the quality compared to the original.
All these are made oversees in Vietnam, Taiwan  …. Some better some worse.
I doubt theses manufacturers are worried about the MB lawyers.

The quality of the brass reproduction I mentioned was "so so" as they say. It required a bit of work before one could then invest the $$$ in chrome plating.

I have not seen many reproductions for sale. In fact, I just went to eBay. There were precisely EIGHT listed for W113:

1 broken star.
1 barrel and ring, no star.
1 complete grill star and barrel, used, $786.43.
1 star and ring surround, separated.
1 barrel, no star
1 new OEM grill star and barrel (as they were sold)
1 used grill star and barrel
1 barrel

(I cannot tell you what may be for sale on Facebook as I don't go there...)

Of the eight, none were reproductions. Five were broken or incomplete. Two used, one new. All OEM. I did find a repro here: http://www.bumperautomobile.com from Vietnam. As they say, "you first". No prices advertised. They are not the first and certainly not the last to reproduce this part. It's not the fly by night manufacturers of such things that anyone has to worry about; you are right. It's the resellers in the developed countries that are the ones that get the calls from the lawyers.

But speaking of quality and grill, many years ago when I needed a new grill surround, I called K&K. Tim Kidder said, "do you want one that fits, or one that doesn't?" I asked him to explain, and someone had started re-manufacturing the brass grill surround. It didn't fit well. The OEM one did.
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2023 Ford Maverick Lariat Hybrid "Area 51"
2022 Ford Escape Hybrid
2023 Ford Escape Hybrid

ja17

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Re: Aftermarket grille star
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2022, 02:07:51 »
When making a reproduction, a pattern must be used to make the mold. Most aftermarkets reproductions use an existing grill star for a pattern to make the mold. The problem is, the brass casting shrinks during the cooling process and the result is a part that is slightly too small and does not fit right.  The only way to do a reproduction correctly is not make a pattern slightly larger than the original star. In this way the patterns are larger and after the brass "star" casting cools, the star will be exactly the correct size.  This is not rocket science and can be calculated very easily. With 3d printers a perfect correct oversize pattern can be made then exact reproductions in zinc, aluminum or brass can be made, ready for chrome plating.
Joe Alexander
Blacklick, Ohio
1969 Dark Olive 280SL
2002 ML55 AMG (tow vehicle)
2002 SLK32 AMG (350 hp)
1982 300TD Wagon turbo 4spd.
1963 404 Mercedes Unimog (Swedish Army)
1989 flu419 Mercedes Unimog (US Army)
1998 E430
1974 450SLC Rally
1965 220SE Finback

mdsalemi

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Re: Aftermarket grille star
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2022, 17:14:45 »
When making a reproduction, a pattern must be used to make the mold. Most aftermarkets reproductions use an existing grill star for a pattern to make the mold. The problem is, the brass casting shrinks during the cooling process and the result is a part that is slightly too small and does not fit right.  The only way to do a reproduction correctly is not make a pattern slightly larger than the original star. In this way the patterns are larger and after the brass "star" casting cools, the star will be exactly the correct size.  This is not rocket science and can be calculated very easily. With 3d printers a perfect correct oversize pattern can be made then exact reproductions in zinc, aluminum or brass can be made, ready for chrome plating.

Right Joe, it isn't rocket science but then again, a skilled tool and die maker isn't too common either. In fact they are probably more scarce than...rocket scientists! It takes quite a bit of effort to get it right, to reverse engineer a part. A bit of trial and error to get create a worthy part that fits. In some cases you then also need to take into account (I don't know how true it would be on a grill star) tolerances for the thickness of the chrome plating, and the kind. Two strike? Copper or Nickel, then Chrome? Three strike?

Any of these parts coming out of a die will probably need some hand work before you invest in the costly chrome plating. Even if you had a perfect but raw brass casting of the grill star and barrel, and sent it out for chrome plating, my guess is you are going to have a plating bill of more than a few hundred dollars ahead of you. Everyone balks at the price of chrome plating, but there's a lot of effort and a lot of handwork in the pre-plating and post-plating to create something beautiful...

...which brings us to the Vietnamese reproduction made out of stainless steel. If the part fits and is beautiful with the proper SS alloy, it can be polished up to "near chrome" look, thus avoiding a costly step if you were casting in zinc or brass. I have new-ish OEM SS wheel covers from MB, and the look between those and the reproductions I once had was astounding. The repros could hardly be made to look like chrome, but the MB ones out of the box did indeed look like chrome with a high polish. The photos of the Vietnamese grill star look nice, but nobody here has come forward and said they have bought one or seen one "in situ" on a car.

If anyone DOES indeed buy a SS reproduction, we'd all love to see it.
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2023 Ford Maverick Lariat Hybrid "Area 51"
2022 Ford Escape Hybrid
2023 Ford Escape Hybrid

dirkbalter

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Re: Aftermarket grille star
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2022, 18:10:05 »
Michael,
I bought repro Grill star and a set of bumpers.
All of the parts are chromed.
To my surprise, the bumpers are not stainless.
They are highly magnetic. I also weight the parts and they are identical.
I will clean and polish them to get an visuell comparison later.
As for the grill star, the round barrel appears to be stainless but is also chrome plated.
The parts (bumpers) were made in Taiwan. After getting a lecture from my local chrome plater on what he calls ”triple chrome plating” , I can not tell you if the same process was applied.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2022, 18:19:09 by dirkbalter »
Dirk
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mdsalemi

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Re: Aftermarket grille star
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2023, 21:38:09 »
I bought repro Grill star and a set of bumpers.
All of the parts are chromed.
...the round barrel appears to be stainless but is also chrome plated.
...After getting a lecture from my local chrome plater on what he calls ”triple chrome plating” , I can not tell you if the same process was applied.

Last first: "triple chrome plating" can mean any number of things depending on who is telling you, but generally it is accepted to mean a three step plating process. First a copper plate, or "strike" as they say, then a nickel strike, followed by the chrome. Some platers may use a four step process, where there are two layers of nickel, a dull strike and a bright strike. It all depends on the plater and their work style.

The entire purpose of using stainless steel in automotive trim is to avoid having to further plate or finish the metal. There's a lot of stainless steel trim on various cars, OEM, over the years, that was just basically left alone.

I will not dispute that which I have not seen, so indeed you may have chrome plated stainless steel parts of some kind or another. But even Mercedes themselves, for example, used to make the wheel covers out of pressed steel, and then had it chrome plated when the parts were OEM for production. As the wheel covers went to just replacement part usage, they were then made of highly polished stainless steel.

Typically we know of stainless steel (from buying fasteners, maybe tools and what have you) in two common grades: 18-8 (often called type 304 but not exactly), or 18-10 (similarly, type 316.)  That's 18% chromium and the 8 or 10 is nickel. Many of you will note that 316 anything is more costly than 304; but 316 is generally more corrosion resistant.

If somebody is reproducing parts, one might think they would be somewhat intelligent about it...but you never know. If you are going to use stainless steel, those common ones are probably not the proper alloy to use. Automotive trim done properly uses other grades, maybe one of the 400 series known to take a high polish. Do it out of the proper alloy and you won't need to chrome plate the part. But maybe they just use whatever they can get their hands on.

Back to wheel covers, OEM and aftermarket as a first class example. Somebody, before they were shut down, made a run of wheel covers out of stainless steel. They probably used 304, but who knows: they surely did NOT use an alloy that could take a high polish. When MB specified a new production run of the wheel covers, they sure as heck DID specify an alloy that could polish properly. I (along with many others) have these late generation OEM SS wheel covers. It's hard to tell them from a well preserved chrome plated example. But the reproduction ones? Perhaps they are "good enough"; certainly the price was. You be the judge...(OEM on left, reproduction on right)

Would STILL love to see that reproduction grill star and barrel from the Vietnamese manufacturer if anybody ever bought one...
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2023 Ford Maverick Lariat Hybrid "Area 51"
2022 Ford Escape Hybrid
2023 Ford Escape Hybrid

dirkbalter

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Re: Aftermarket grille star
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2023, 23:51:15 »
Just to make sure, I am not promoting repro parts or original ones. I am strictly giving my opinion on the parts I bought. Everybody needs to make that call for themselves.
I also believe that most of Michaels comments or analysis on stn steel vers. plain steel are correct but I wasn’t talking about polished stainless.
I am comparing chrome plated parts whether ss or regular.
That being said, I cleaned the better of my old bumpers and compared it to the new (repro) one and can not really tell a difference in the so called chrome depth. However, if I tilt the parts and look at them against the light, the repro ones appear to have some slight “ waves” in the surface. You can only see it it at certain angles.
That’s why I in my earlier post said, they are 95 %. But I also believe 98.5% of the viewers won’t be able to tell.
Again, my main point is, there are differences in what is available. It helps if you can inspect them before buying.

Hope that helps
Dirk
66 230 SL
70 280 SEL
53 CHEVY 3100
18 C300 COUPE
05 HD FLSTNI

dirkbalter

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Re: Aftermarket grille star
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2023, 00:25:04 »

Would STILL love to see that reproduction grill star and barrel from the Vietnamese manufacturer if anybody ever bought one...

I think you need to have in your hands to really judge it. Not sure it’s Vietnamese, may be Taiwan or …..
« Last Edit: January 03, 2023, 00:30:32 by dirkbalter »
Dirk
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114015

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Re: Aftermarket grille star
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2023, 12:49:04 »
Dirk,

That one looks pretty acceptable on the first glance.
Have you compared this one with the original one? Same size?

Best,

Achim
(with renovated original grille star)
Achim
(Germany)

dirkbalter

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Re: Aftermarket grille star
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2023, 16:13:36 »
Dirk,

That one looks pretty acceptable on the first glance.
Have you compared this one with the original one? Same size?

Best,

Achim
(with renovated original grille star)



Achim,
Frohes Neues.
I believe they are acceptable. The individual parts match my old ones. The barrel appears to be chrome plated stainless with the mtl thicknesses the same. If I look at the star portion closely, I can see that the surfaces are not as smooth or flat as on the original one. I doubt you can see it standing in front of the car with the star mounted.
When I picked it up, I looked at a couple of them and picked what I felt was the best one.

Dirk
66 230 SL
70 280 SEL
53 CHEVY 3100
18 C300 COUPE
05 HD FLSTNI