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

The Project Car in Question

The Project Car – Everything looks good until you really look

I am “restoring” or you could say fixing my 1984 280CE W123. To give you an idea of why it is not an exactly a restoration, but more of hidden problems that needs to be attended, check out the pictures of the car below.

280CE W123 Front view
280CE front view
W123 280CE Side View
Side View, good lines
280CE W123 rear view
Rear view
W123 280CE Front bonnet open
Front with bonnet open
M110 6 Cylinder Engine w. electronic injection
The mighty M110 Engine – last iteration

As you could guess, the problem is rust related in some places out of view. It is leaking water when parked and the rear trailing arm needs to be replaced. Will probably find more issues and need to change wear parts.