Author Topic: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)  (Read 14925 times)

Tom Colitt

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Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« on: December 29, 2006, 02:36:18 »
Painting Process for the Interior, Underside and Engine Bay of Pagodas

I rarely find the time to post to the forum anymore, ever since I started running a full restoration shop for Pagodas. However, one question that has piqued my interest ever since I first got involved with this Mercedes model was how they were painted at the factory. About half a year ago, my shop began a complete restoration of a very original, low-miles and unabused 1969 280SL, which gave me further insight into the fashion in which these cars were painted. In this post I will only go into the details of the painting process of some of the interior portions, since the exterior generally doesn’t prove to be that much of a challenge to do correctly.

Overall the cars were painted largely assembled (and not with the doors, hood, trunk lid, etc. removed). Even the engine bay and inside the hood were painted in the color of the rest of the car, while the hood was already installed. This explains that the bolts for the hood hinges are painted and “glued” together with paint on a car that has never had it’s hood removed. Everything inside the engine bay was installed after the car was painted along with the complete engine, radiator and sub-frame, which were installed from the bottom of the car. By the way, the exterior of the car was not painted in one sitting with the interior. The exterior finish was of a much higher quality and required extra work.

Before I begin with the details, please keep in mind that there were variations of a number of the following observations, which I will address later on:

I have seen questions come up, concerning the rubber plugs in the headlight buckets or inside the wiper motor bucket. Should they be painted or not? The answer is that they were installed into the already primered body (which was dipped completely) and then painted over, along with the body color paint. How about the approximately 25mm holes (that you find only in later year Pagodas) lined up along the upper edge of the inner front fenders? Some years came with rubber plugs, others did not. I had always suspected that those cars that did have the eight rubber plugs, had them installed before the engine bay was painted, because I had found a ring of the original factory primer when I pulled out the plugs. Oddly, I never really found any good evidence of paint on the plugs themselves and I figured that the paint (which was applied as economically as possible at the factory) had simply worn off the rubber at a much faster rate, due to molding release agents found on rubber parts and the lack of any adhesion promoting paint prep. on these rubber parts. Well, this latest project showed clear evidence of paint on the plugs, even though the engine bay had never been re-painted. However, even on this well-preserved example, the paint on the plugs was very faint.

Even beyond that, the same “primer rings” existed on at least one side (the side that is hidden away under the battery tray), when I removed the rubber boots that cover the wires leading form the inner fenders, to the headlight buckets, although paint on those boots has been even harder to find. Also, there is a clear ridge of the original factory PVC underbody “Schutz” coating that was applied after the rubber boots were installed, as well as “Schutz” over-spray on the boots themselves. (This car had no additional undercoating applied in the past 38 years.)

I have seen paint jobs where these boots were not removed from the car prior to painting and people call that a “sloppy” job, but they may not have been completely wrong?…. Keep in mind that contrary to many over-restored cars seen as car shows, with a shiny paint job completely covering every inch of the underbody and inside the transmission tunnel, the factory paint job generally only had over-spray, which reached all the way onto the underbody. Depending on the color, the day of the week, the model year, whether the beer machine at the factory was freshly stocked or not and other variables, this coverage ranged from very little paint to extensive coverage, beyond the rocker panels and on to the floor, as well as the transmission support plate (which appears to have been held in place under the transmission tunnel during the painting process, not with the 14 screws used later on, but maybe two just for painting?) Again, I have seen variances on some of these issues. On this particular car, the transmission mounting plate clearly had masked the lower portion of the transmission tunnel from any of the factory PVC under coating or paint and the lower portion of the tunnel presented itself only in the very durable beige 2-k primer. The upper portion of the tunnel had some paint resulting from the engine bay over-spray, but there was obviously no attempt made to get complete coverage.

Details that are pretty standard are that the vehicle’s data plate was painted, screwed in place, on the mounting tray for the relays, the 30mm diameter bare spots inside the engine bay where the body was masked from paint or primer (In other words, the body was originally left BARE), such as at: The grounding spots for the brown wires near the windshield washer pump, at one of the mounting holes for the voltage regulator, just forward of the coolant reservoir on the inner fender, at the heavy grounding cable from the rear of the engine bay to the engine, at the negative battery terminal cable and for the grounding strap from the cylinder head to the upper, left-hand radiator support hole. The center mounted hood latch apparently was often painted in place along with the bolts that hold it, which is why the area under the latch usually remained without paint. However, I have seen more than a few cars that clearly had the bolts themselves, installed after the cars were painted. This appears to be true especially on cars that were equipped with the radio suppression option, on which a copper contact makes contact with the hood catch plate via an electrically conductive bare spot (30mm diameter bare spot, achieved by masking before the inside of the hood and assembled latch plate were primed and painted). On these cars, there was also a 30 mm masking sticker applied to the mounting perch inside the engine bay, where the copper spring, latch and screws were installed after the paint job. The areas where the cast aluminum doorstops are bolted to the inside of the a-pillar, are also bare of paint, but obviously these were not painted along with the rest of the car. It is likely that at the factory paint shop, substitute fixtures were bolted in place, to keep the doors from accidentally opening too far and damaging the fenders, while the painter painted the door jambs (picture).

Inside the rear fenders you will find complete coverage over the PVC undercoating, similar to the exterior paint job. The backside of the trunk floor’s coverage is only partial. Inside the front fenders the coverage is complete on the side closest to the engine bay, as well as the splash panels, at least down to where they meet the floorboards. The separate splashguards that are bolted onto the splash panels were painted already installed in the car. There is rarely evidence of paint on the splash guard rubber seal due to years of “erosion” there. Also, the paint coverage on the surface inside the fender itself can be faint to almost non-existent.
The backside of the headlight buckets has a fair amount of paint coverage.

What else?… In the front, the frame of the body would have been supported at the two consoles at the very bottom, front of the engine bay, where the studs that hold the front sub-frame longitudinal stays protrude. For this reason there is no paint found at the very bottom of these consoles or the studs. Other parts like the bottom of the steering damper anchor stay and the steering idler arm stay also received little coverage on the bottom. The coverage to the left and right of the transmission tunnel also gets much thinner as you get closer to the floorboard.

You can all decide for yourselves what all this means if you are doing a “frame-up” restoration on your cars, but at the very least I thought I’d pass the information on, because as the last “untouched” cars undergo restoration it will become harder to know just what might be considered “correct” at a car show, for instance, or simply for those particular enough to care about these details. Also, I welcome other well-informed comments from owners or restorers who have made first-hand observations, so we can collect this information.

Regards, Tom Colitt
ClassicAutosLA


Tom Colitt

Tom Colitt

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2006, 02:57:23 »
I tried to upload some pictures to complement the article, but apparently jpg. file extentions are not allowable. Please email me if you'd like any pictures or know of a way to attach them.

Tom Colitt

bpossel

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2006, 07:03:16 »
Hi Tom,

Thank you for this information.  It will really help me, and I am sure others, when we can finally have our own cars restored from the ground up.

I have a picture of the underside of my car which sort of shows one area that you discussed... "... this coverage ranged from very little paint to extensive coverage, beyond the rocker panels and on to the floor, as well as the transmission support plate (which appears to have been held in place under the transmission tunnel during the painting process, not with the 14 screws used later on, but maybe two just for painting?) Again, I have seen variances on some of these issues. On this particular car, the transmission mounting plate clearly had masked the lower portion of the transmission tunnel from any of the factory PVC under coating or paint and the lower portion of the tunnel presented itself only in the very durable beige 2-k primer..."

On my car (see pic below), notice the lack of Schutz and paint (except primer) where the transmission plate attaches... also notice that only primer is on the trans tunnel itself.  you can see that some of the Schutz and paint hit the back areas, between the plate and underside while the front part shows a clear line where no paint, Shutz, resides.  I guess this confirms that the plate was screwed in towards the front and maybe hanging loose in the back so that some spray went between the plate and underside...  My car also still has some of the "wax?" coating as seen by the darker amber coloring...  Can you speak to this?

Download Attachment: underside.jpg
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Download Attachment: underside2.jpg
57.39 KB

Thanks again!
Bob
« Last Edit: December 29, 2006, 07:13:01 by bpossel »

bpossel

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2006, 07:32:45 »
Tom,

 :?: A couple more questions...

Recently, I removed my rocker panel covers to do some cleaning underneath and to have the panels repainted.  When I removed the panels, I could see that it appears that they sprayed a line of black paint along the underside prior to installing the panels.  See pic below.  Is this what you have found on the more original cars, or was this done on my car at some later time?
Download Attachment: rocker.jpg
26.26 KB

This picture shows my gas tank removed.  Looks like the gas tank was in place when they sprayed the car because it looks like primer under the tank and on the underside of the trunk?  Can you speak to this?
Download Attachment: gastankout.jpg
58.1 KB

Thanks Tom!
Bob
« Last Edit: December 29, 2006, 07:45:17 by bpossel »

Tom Colitt

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2006, 13:04:57 »
Hi Bob

It is interesting that you have that "clear line" you mention, halfway down where the transmission support plate would be. I completely agree that the plate could have been held in place by only the rear two screws during painting and yet one still could debate exactly how the Schutz got there and created such a sharp dividing line. I use 2 screws diaginally to hold the plate during painting.

As far as the wax goes, it was used on a large portion of the floor pan area, especially the fuel and brake lines are always coated, as well as the front frame rails. The front, lower suspension wishbones also have this wax. There is actually factory literature that specifies the exact areas and maybe someone on this site could scan their original in for other to see.

P.S. You have a nice original car. The next time you replace the muffler, its worth using the original Gillet, not Eberspaecher muffler for quality and sound, although Eberspaecher is good too. :)
quote:
Originally posted by bpossel

Hi Tom,

Thank you for this information.  It will really help me, and I am sure others, when we can finally have our own cars restored from the ground up.

I have a picture of the underside of my car which sort of shows one area that you discussed... "... this coverage ranged from very little paint to extensive coverage, beyond the rocker panels and on to the floor, as well as the transmission support plate (which appears to have been held in place under the transmission tunnel during the painting process, not with the 14 screws used later on, but maybe two just for painting?) Again, I have seen variances on some of these issues. On this particular car, the transmission mounting plate clearly had masked the lower portion of the transmission tunnel from any of the factory PVC under coating or paint and the lower portion of the tunnel presented itself only in the very durable beige 2-k primer..."

On my car (see pic below), notice the lack of Schutz and paint (except primer) where the transmission plate attaches... also notice that only primer is on the trans tunnel itself.  you can see that some of the Schutz and paint hit the back areas, between the plate and underside while the front part shows a clear line where no paint, Shutz, resides.  I guess this confirms that the plate was screwed in towards the front and maybe hanging loose in the back so that some spray went between the plate and underside...  My car also still has some of the "wax?" coating as seen by the darker amber coloring...  Can you speak to this?

Download Attachment: underside.jpg
65.91 KB
Download Attachment: underside2.jpg
57.39 KB

Thanks again!
Bob



Tom Colitt
« Last Edit: December 29, 2006, 13:06:53 by Tom Colitt »

Tom Colitt

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2006, 13:12:06 »
You're right Bob.

This was absolutely done at the factory, possibly only on the lighter body colors, just so you wouldn't be able to see any body color beneath the Black rocker (over) covers. It's another one of those Black-outs as you also see in the area around (behind) the front grill, the radiator support panels and even the frame member that hides beneath the front bumper.
quote:
Originally posted by bpossel

Tom,

 :?: A couple more questions...

Recently, I removed my rocker panel covers to do some cleaning underneath and to have the panels repainted.  When I removed the panels, I could see that it appears that they sprayed a line of black paint along the underside prior to installing the panels.  See pic below.  Is this what you have found on the more original cars, or was this done on my car at some later time?
Download Attachment: rocker.jpg
26.26 KB

This picture shows my gas tank removed.  Looks like the gas tank was in place when they sprayed the car because it looks like primer under the tank and on the underside of the trunk?  Can you speak to this?
Download Attachment: gastankout.jpg
58.1 KB

Thanks Tom!
Bob



Tom Colitt

Bob G

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2006, 15:21:01 »
Tom:
good summery of how the factory painted the W113. I fine it intresting from factory photos that on the 1964 230SL the rocker panels were body color, when did that change? How much attention vs the old 300SL and 190SL did the pagoda SL receive as it was build? how long did it take to build a Pagoda once all the paper work was  complete ? It would be intresting to note that at the time of the 1960 & 1970 when this grand touring car was built that mercedes-benz bragged about how many inspectors they had on the assemblie line to check the work. In 1968 workers from other countrys were on the assembly line and I heard the work was not the same German quality expected of Mercedes-Benz .
Tom.
Take lots of pictures because orginal pagoda SLs are getting harder to fine and many repaints that  are sloppy are put on these cars to mask them and sell them to unsuspecting people.
Bob Geco
W113 member #15
« Last Edit: December 29, 2006, 15:22:17 by Bob G »

Benz Dr.

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2006, 16:22:25 »
I think the trans mounting plate is painted seperately and then screwed on before the car is painted. All of the ones I've ever seen were painted on both sides in the same colour as the car.
Helpful info for restoration.

Dan Caron's
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benzbarn@ebtech.net
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1966 230SL 5 speed, LSD, header pipes, 300SE distributor, ported, polished and balanced, AKA  ''The Red Rocket ''
Dan Caron's SL Barn

1970  3.5 Coupe
1961  190SL
1985   300CD  Turbo Coupe
1981  300SD
2013  GMC  Sierra
1965  230SL
1967 250SL
1970 280SL
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bpossel

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2006, 04:33:41 »
Hi Dan,
My transmission plate is painted with body color on both sides (no trace of Shutz or wax).  Maybe they used another temp plate as the cars rolled into the paint area?
Bob
quote:
Originally posted by Benz Dr.

I think the trans mounting plate is painted seperately and then screwed on before the car is painted. All of the ones I've ever seen were painted on both sides in the same colour as the car.
Helpful info for restoration.

Dan Caron's
 SL Barn
benzbarn@ebtech.net
 slbarn.mbz.org
  1 877 661 6061



bpossel  (Memphis, TN.)
'71 280SL  /  '97 E320
« Last Edit: December 30, 2006, 04:41:19 by bpossel »

bpossel

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2006, 04:38:10 »
Thanks Tom!,

 :?: Here is another one that you may be able to answer?

My car has a small metal plate that is bent over the lower edge of the inner left wheel well area.  This always seemed odd to me in that it is not painted with Shutz or any body color.  Appears it was added afterwards and almost seems out of place...

Any comments on this?
 :) Thank you!
Bob

Download Attachment: rearplate.jpg
73.83 KB

bpossel  (Memphis, TN.)
'71 280SL  /  '97 E320

Tom Colitt

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2006, 13:39:13 »
Hi

I'll try to answer some of the questions. As I said there are likely to be different opinions about some of these items. I feel that my observations are based on careful examination of very "unmolested", low mileage cars that I have seen over the years. I will ask Bob to post some pictures to help illustrate what I have written.

Bob, I am fairly certain, that cover plate you have pictured is original from the factory on later cars. My guess is that it is used as a splash shield for the fuel vent that is located in the left trunk floor, just aft of the left wheel housing. It is part of the evaporative emissions plumbing found only on 1970 and 1971 cars.

As far as the transmission plate. Maybe there are some that were painted on both sides from the factory. Like I said there is no guarantee that Franz or Hans or Fritz (you get my point  :) )might not have forgotten to install the plate prior to painting and then shot it separately later. The main evidence I have from my observations on numerous cars, is that the plate seems to shield only those sections of the transmission tunnel from schutz and paint, that would be covered by it, installed on the car during painting. Also, the bacj side generally only has a very faint dusting of body color and that is not a result of erosion over the years. Bob's picture supports that although there is no guarantee that a painter might not have sprayed the "back-side" of the plate from inside the tunnel during painting. In that case there should also be some paint line visible where the plate contacts the car body. Finally, could the transmission plate have been repainted at a later date? It is very hard to get evidence of what the factory did on cars that have been repainted, but finding factory primer on parts is a good clue that a car has never been re-painted.

There have been people that said that these cars were dipped completely in paint (primer yes). Just look behind the kick panels and the dash and you will find only spotty coverage or spray mist in body color.

Bob Geco:

I am convinced that the picture(s) in question, that show the rocker panel cover, painted in the color of the car, to be a pre-production press photo. Maybe this was a very early car, individually built for car shows or press photos. I have a very early 230SL (with the verticle spare tire) in the shop now and it has the factory, texturized Black rocker covers, that appear to be original as well as that Black paint that Bob Possel spoke of, to Black-out the body color behind those Black rocker covers.
 (On that note some may have noticed that the fit of the current new rocker covers is often quite different from the original ones and you have to metal work them to fix the gaps).

I agree, I would love to talk to some of the original assembly line workers to learn more. I don't feel that the use of the mostly Turkish, Greek, Italian guest workers diminished the high quality standards that MB would have set for their product back then. But I do agree that in those days there was a lot more hand craftsmanship involved, very similarly to the 300SL and 190SL, which left room for deviations. For instance, I was surprised to find the amount of dust and even dirt found in the original paint, inside the door dambs and hood fromlack of clean up prior to painting there. Of course, you have all heard about or seen the runs in hood and trunk lids, due to the fact that they were in the upright open position when painted (Black, in the case of the trunk lid- Tiefdunkelgrau, for the purists). Today, it would be hard to imagine those kinds of runs (for that,orange peel is purposely kept at a higher level today, because it allows the manufacturers more flexibility when it comes to the flatness of body panels. No joke!)
Finally, I agree with you, that there were many inspection markers. I have found up to four different colors in some locations. I wish someone had a chart (I would be happy to translate if it was in German) that gives a key of what the various colors denoted....). Maybe one day I'll find the time to compile one.

Tom Colitt

Bob G

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2006, 14:31:42 »
Tom:
Thank you for writing this article. Does anyone have any pictures from the factory delivery center . I am curious as to the level of attention and fimularization given to new owners of the cars working.

The only picture I have seen of the assembly line was the cover of one Frank Mallory's Mercedes-collector magazines. I would think prehaps Daimler Chrysler may have more in the archeives here in New Jersey at the USA office or at the classic center museum in Germany. It would be detective work for a sluth to fine
these old documents and put to rest all the mystery and here say about the Pagoda production from 1963 to 1971.

Bob Geco

bpossel

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2006, 14:42:06 »
I guess I am a "nut" because I find this topic very interesting...

Here is a picture of the underside of my right dash area.  It shows the primer, as Tom describes.  It appears that they used the Shutz goo stuff (mixed with body color) and brushed it on in the corner seam areas...?

Bob
Download Attachment: underdash.jpg
50.44 KB

bpossel  (Memphis, TN.)
'71 280SL  /  '97 E320

66andBlue

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2006, 17:18:55 »
quote:
Originally posted by Bob G

 ...  Does anyone have any pictures from the factory delivery center ...

Bob G,
here are pictures of the 230SL (and 600s) assembly line at Sindelfingen, one showing the circular track assembly in 1960, and another one from 1904/1921.
Is that what you wanted to see?
All of the pictures are from the book by Langworth [see: http://sl113.org/forums/index.php?topic=5787]

Download Attachment: 230SL_AssemblyLine.jpg
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Download Attachment: Circular Assembly.jpg
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Download Attachment: 1904_1921.jpg
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Alfred
1966 blue 230SL automatic
« Last Edit: December 30, 2006, 17:27:34 by 66andBlue »
Alfred
1964 230SL manual 4-speed 568H signal red
1966 230SL automatic 334G light blue (sold)
1968 280SL automatic (now 904G midnight blue)

bpossel

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2006, 20:55:20 »
Pictures from Tom... "Here are some before (original 1969 280Sl) and after pictures..."

Before Pictures: 000 2732, 000 2733, 000 2645, 000 2652, 000 2654, 000 2660
After pictures: 000 2669, 000 2670, 000 2671
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Download Attachment: 000_2732.jpg
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bpossel  (Memphis, TN.)
'71 280SL  /  '97 E320

Shvegel

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2006, 05:55:47 »
Speaking as a former BMW instructor I am guessing that since the cars were painted with the engine and transmission out the transmission mounting plate would not have been on the car.

Knowing what I do of the northern European temperment there would have been a dummy cover installed to prevent the underbody spray from getting into the threaded holes for the plate and to keep any undercoating from getting between the body and the final plate which might squeeze out over time and effect the final torque of the bolts.

I just had a company from the Netherlands on a Yacht that I am taking care of and before the engineer would adjust the new system that he installed he dressed all his small screwdrivers because "When you are buying new equipment you expect the screws to look new".

Shvegel

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2006, 05:58:20 »
Tom,

Have you found a good match for the factory undercoating "rocker shutz"?

Tom Colitt

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Re: Paint Process for Pagodas (for complete nuts only)
« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2006, 14:13:30 »
I agree that the "dummy cover" would be a good explanation, just as the "dummy" door brakes, etc. I have found that more important in trying to recreate the (widely variing) texture originally found on the Pagodas, depends less on what product you choose (Wurth, 3M is good, but Mercedes factory product is also available. More important it the Schutz gun used, the air pressures, how you apply it etc. Spot repair jobs can be quite difficult to achieve properly....
quote:
Originally posted by Shvegel

Tom,

Have you found a good match for the factory undercoating "rocker shutz"?



Tom Colitt