Welding water drains

Water sports in pools within the coupé

I realized that the car have had a small repair on the lower section under the left side rear quarter window due to a parking ding or something in the past. How do i know that? The lower panel had no water drain holes! How is this possible to be so sloppy when fixing a repair? They must have known it would start rusting immediately when the water has nowhere to go every time it rains.

The outer car window seals are never completely rainproof since the windows are made to be lowered. Especially when the windows are lowered when they are wet they drag lots of water into the panels. This is fine since the water can escape through drains through the lower panel. However here there were no such thing like on the right side. Idiots… The result are massive amount of rust in this area, both on the inner canal panel and the outer body panel. Thankfully the welding was quite easy since it involved straight large panels. The big part was removing the panels in the interior and working in tight areas.

Lets get to work, start tearing those inner panels off, hopefully without damaging them and breaking clips.

beyond inner panel at beackseat in w123 coupe
Beyond the inner panel

Do you see that hole behind the seat belt puller? Obviously there was no hole before, no drains remember… But after removing the the rusted metal a huge hole was left, maybe a bit too much? To get access to the inside I had to remove even the window mechanism.

inside panels removed w123 coupe
All panels removed including window mechanism

The hole left was huge, all that lower panel had top be cut off and even the inner panel is rusted out and needed to be removed.

lower panel before welding
Lower panel before welding, huge hole

After cutting the inner panel and welding in a new one it looked like this. I got access through the other hole in channel to paint it, there is a large rubber plug one can open. Needed to recreate the corner there as well, a bit tricky, but very satisfied with the result.

Inside panel welded
Welded the inside panel and canal corner

What remained was to weld the outside panel, paint it, make drain holes and side trim fastener holes. Obviously paint it on the inside as wheel since all the water is going there from the window. Don’t want it to rust again.

lower side panel welded and painted
Outer side panel welded and painted, not that I made the picture before I drilled the drain holes and holes for the side trim.
lower panel finished
Finishing the lower panel, nmow with drain holes!

Now on to the wheel well, It had some rust holes spread out, and the worst part was at the point where the rubber end stop was (if the car bottoms out this will prevent the wheel hitting the upper part). I had to make a new bracket from scratch.

wheel well before welding
Was quite some rust in some areas and needed to remove the old metal and the suspension rubber end bracket

The metal bracket holding the rubber on the left side of the car was so rusted I threw it out. This is a part that is welded to the car and cannot be replaced. So I made a new one, I think my design is even better and more strongly built than the old one. The rubber can be replaced and I changed them too. In the picture under you can see the original bracket for the right side, and creation of a new bracket for the left side. They are mirrored since they are on different sides of the car.

rubber mounts for suspension w123
Making new rubber bracket from scratch.

I also made a new mount on the car out of 2mm steel plate which is super solid. The end result is under

wheel well after welding and painting
Wheel well after welding and painting, notice the rubber bracket is now mounted

Welding the rear quarter wheel arch

Wheel arches mania

Started welding on the rear right wheel arch today, I hope to finish it tomorrow. It is hard to shape the metal to the smooth round shape of the wheel arch. Much easier if I had a replacement part, but these parts are rare and expensive since it’s a coupe and the rear section differs from the station wagon and sedan models. A part from an old wreck are hard to come by and would had the same rust problem in 99% of the cases. So better off doing it the hard way.

rusted right rear wheel arch
Rusted right rear wheel arch

Obviously I had to make a huge hole and remove the old crappy metal.

Welding metal into the wheel arch
Making some wheel arch

Cutting panels and shaping it is an art, and I’m not an artist, just a simple engineer.

Welding wheel arch
Welding first seam

Welding along the seam needs patience, the metal here is very thin.

Welding wheel arch
Welding continues

Also have to make the inner weld which I didn’t take pictures of.

Welding wheel arch
Adding lower part

This last part is a tricky one though. How will I be able to replicate the smooth shape?

Welding inner wheel arch
Welding the inner sides

Making the car water proof once again.

Wheel arch welded tight
Final polish before paint

Welding done! Think I have swung the hammer more times today than any other day in my life! An exact reshape of the arch was not possible from my side. Will need some filler to make up the last touches.

Wheel arch painted
Wheel arch painted but not done

Painting the metal and then applying filler.

Wheel arch finishing touches
Finishing the touches with some body filler to get the smooth shape, harder than I thought. Used a filler that is easy to sand.

I was quite pleased with the result, but is not as perfect as a replacement arch, will look into that in the future…maybe. So fast forward in time, here is the end result. Not bad for an amateur like myself!

Result after welding wheel arch
Wheel arch after painting

You can see the slight difference in color where the old and the new paint meet. I also think the shape of the arch is nice.

Welding the Jack Points

Welding all the things

The sheet metal on the canals around the jack points seen as the four holes at under the doors were quite rusted out. Actually I had to weld three out of the four.

The jack points themselves were rust free when removing the sheet metal in the canals around the jack holes. They are made out of very thick steel and also have the protection of having the canals as protection. The canal sheet metal on the other hand didn’t cope so well with the road salt and it is especially exposed at the corner where it meets the wheel wall. Here a lot of dirt and salt can accumulate  behind the plastic inner fender and it also is exposed from the engine and roof water drains. At the picture under you can see a hole straight into the coupe where it is next to the engine water drain.

right front jack point
The right front jack point

When welding it is very important to treat both sides of the weld with anti rust paint to keep it from rusting again, and also do this soon after the welding before the rust can attack the weld seam.

front right jack point
Jack point welded shut
front right jack point after repainting
After repainting it looks like new

The rear right jack point also had to be welded as can be seen on the picture below. This is also the point where I got a new camera, so there is a huge difference in picture quality.

Rear right jack point before weld
Rear right jack point before welding, as can be seen, the jack point structure itself is unaffected

When seeing how thin the canals are and the rigid thick structure of the jack points, one can see how extremely import it is to never jack up the car outside the designated areas (you might end up with the jacks going straight through the car).

jrear right jack point after welding
Rear right jack point after welding

I didn’t bother taking pictures of the third one since it was much less of a hole and not so spectacular as these two.

Stripping down to the Essentials

Disassembly is fun – when you don’t have to assemble it again..

How do you fix a car that is almost at light restoration level? Well you strip it down piece by piece and the hardest part is  categorizing every washer, nut and bolt and storing it in a safe place so they don’t get lost. And even harder, figuring out where it all goes in when you are about to assemble it all together again. If 300 bolts are left after  you put the car together, then stop and try again!

So what part do I have to take off? Well the list is long… I have to remove everything that is in the way of the welding areas and that might catch on fire. I have to remove all the mechanical parts that I have to replace and for disassembly and replacing of bushings. Mercedes has a million rubber bushings in the “complicated” suspension system for ride smoothness, and they wear with time and the ride will feel loose or be rock hard. It can even be a safety concern if your suspension will move in directions they shouldn’t.

So here is the list:

  • Interior such as seats and carpets
  • Body trim, lights, bumpers
  • Front fender panels
  • Exhaust system
  • Parking brake cables
  • Drive shaft
  • Rear axles
  • Differential
  • Rear suspension assembly with both trailing arms
  • Rear stabilizer bar
  • Fuel Lines
  • Fuel pump and filters
  • Rear Brake Calipers
  • Might have forgot something though…

So how does the car look like then when it is assembled?

Car shell 280CE
The Ghostly remains of a car

You might have noticed that the car shop is in a barn? Well it is not luxurious, but it’s the best I can do for now. Quite cold in the winters though (sometime -20°C) and not optimally lighted, actually light is the biggest issue over temperature.

Stripped 280CE front
Notice I keep the wheel on in the front. The car is jacked up enough in the rear so it is enough clearance
Stripped car 280CE front
Where is my lights?
stripped interior 280CE
Interior pretty much removed

So let get to it, fix all the things!!

fix all the things