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Rust Repairs & Restoration

Started by Mforcer, 23 October 2011, 09:53 PM


Three weeks ago I commenced dismantling my car in preparation to have some rust repairs and a full respray. I only have about 3-4 hours on Saturday mornings to do the work so expect things will be slow and don't have a lot of time for photos if I am to complete this in any reasonable time. My focus has been on the source of a long time water leak into the passenger foot well which I initially mentioned in another topic.

First 2 weeks involved removing the bumpers, head lights, tail lights, most of the exterior shiny bits, as well as door panels and the rear view mirrors. Doors were generally looking ok but there is some minor rust bubbles at the base of the door which will be repaired. I also removed the windshield wiper motor which allowed me to view the rust from the fresh air cowl.

Removing the A-pillar guttering revealed a lot of dirt and a poorly fitted windshield rubber as seen in the photos below. I don't know if this is the cause of a leak but still doesn't look good.

I also damaged the rubber gasket where the power for the windshield wipers runs through but is probably worth replacing as many of those as possible to ensure none of them are leaking are 35 years.

Last weekend was getting stuck into the real action. I removed the kick panels under the dash board and removed the glove box which was all relatively straightforward.

I found a small black pipe running through the fire wall which was not attached to anything and have no idea where it should go. Any ideas for when I put everything back together?

I also removed the air blower which had a good layer of dirt and rust at the bottom, some of which would be blown out the air vents when turned up to full. The below photo shows the blower motor housing with the blower motor removed and some panels from under the dash.

I didn't removed the blower motor from the foot well as I couldn't work out how to free the power cable running through the fresh air vent. Is the power for the blower motor meant to run through the fresh air vent hole?

This is what I did find behind the blower motor :o

Does anyone have a photo of a fresh air vent without rust so I can better understand what should be there and what has simply rusted away?

Also notice the lower hole that runs into the wheel well and the previous bodge jobs by others attempting to resolve the leak issues by covering the rubber gaskets with black, sticky gunk..

Same rust hole from the wheel well side.

I also tried to remove the front passenger seat but left rear bolt holding the seat down is stuck in a rusted bracket and will hopefully be removed before next weeks work when I plan to strip the rest of the interior including the center console. I also expect the front and rear windshields to be removed by next week.

After all the not-so-good news of the rust, I did have something to get excited about this week :D Thanks Joe!

1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200



Your car has cruise control right?  The mysterious pipe is the vent line for the cc actuator, it is not connected to anything, it simply bleeds off vacuum once you deactivate the cc.

You have some intricate rust repairs ahead of you, have fun!!




That's great to know and a relief. My car should have cruise control but was removed many years ago when it stopped working (before my time) and I have never bothered to put it back in.

I will not be touching any of the actual rust repairs or painting. I have some great people helping me with that and a few other things I get stuck with :)
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200


mforcer! I didn't know if you even owned a screwdriver ;D  I wish you had done this before I wrecked the brown 280, I could've taken some details photos for you as it got dissected coz that area was unbelievably fairly well rust free.  Your A pillars look pretty good IMO.  Just crud there and I don't reckon you're getting a leak through that windscreen seal in the corner there coz although the seal's edge is folded up a little, the sheet metal goes a fair way into the seal which wraps around it.

I'm curious, in the box of goodies did you get the rubber bits for the A pillar too, the long bit and the short fat bit that goes at the bottom?  Mine look shite!  Good luck with it, looking forward to progress pics. ;)
1973 350SE, my first & fave


Thanks Oscar. I am borrowing all the tools from the panel shop ;D

The A pillars do seem good apart from the dirt (no use washing it now). The rubber was replaced a few years ago when the existing rubber was butchered by someone else doing other work.

Also, that was just the first box of goodies on the way :)
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200

TJ 450

Excellent pics, Mforcer.

I'll be keeping an eye on how the repairs go for sure.

1976 450SEL 6.9 1432
1969 300SEL 6.3 1394
2003 ML500


Another weekend and another morning of work completed :)

Stripping doors:

Rust in lower rear corner of front left (passenger) door

Front right (drivers ) door looks good

Right rear door with old rust previously been cut out but not properly repaired

Rust at top edge of right rear door

More rust in front left window rail :(

Also removed the rear parcel shelf which is looking clean (except for the felt stuck around the first-aid kit.

I'll need new speakers in the rear as one stopped working after more work by a past mechanic ::)

Removed the front right drivers seat but the left passengers seat is putting up quite a fight. The problem is the metal plate into which the rear left bolt screws (under the bracket on which the seat sits) has rusted and broken free from the bracket and now spins with the bolt. Due to the tight space, I have so far been unable to hold the plate fixed while turning the bolt. I will try again next week with a pair of vice grips but otherwise looking for suggestions. Would cutting the bracket be the best option if nothing else works?

I also started removing the interior panels but ran out of time but also need to check the service manual for instructions ???

Being the first time I have ever attempted anything like this and certainly anything of this scale, I am starting to feel a little scared and depressed at the thought of not being able to put it all together. The number of fasteners that are already missing (never replaced after previous work by other "professionals") or replaced with obviously poor substitutes makes me wonder how I will manage.
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200


You'll manage  ;D  Keep everything together and take care not to lose any fasteners. Try to stay organized as it will make putting things together easier.

Endevour to persevere   8)

TJ 450

Excellent, it's all happening.

Worst case scenario will involve cutting the seat mount. I just did that on the 280.

1976 450SEL 6.9 1432
1969 300SEL 6.3 1394
2003 ML500


I worked on my car again for a few hours over the weekend and managed to finish stripping the interior of all carpets and the center console. The family of roaches were surprised!

The bolt which was preventing me from removing the passenger seat was ground down with a small belt sander which in hind sight should have been done 4 weeks ago.

The center console was a bit of a mess with parts broken and missing. I only found half the expected screws keeping the console in place and the left-side bracket to attach it to the fire wall was missing. What are my options for fixing/replacing the center console?

I think I will also need to redo the wiring for my stereo when I reinstall it (along with the iPod/iPhone connector) as it seemed to be a mess held together with electrical tape.

Hunting for more rust, I discovered some unexpected holes in the right (drivers) side floor pan under the seat and around the bracket to which the seat bolts too. Would have been interesting if that ever broke through :o

I also found rust inside the box section under the rear bench seat. At least it looks a little brown in there :-\ That seems to be another tricky fix but the panel guys aren't looking worried.

Another unexpected find was that the rear sunroof drains did not pass through the holes in the C-pillars. I have no idea how or where the water was draining to but I can't see any rust issues there.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten my camera and photos will need to wait until next week.

Updated with photos.
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200


Great to see all this work happening Mforcer. Let know if you want me to bring some beers over for moral support!
1977 450SEL


I can use all the support I can get... another package arrived yesterday and has certainly helped with the enthusiasm :)

New front seat leather:

New rear seat leather:

Rear squab old vs new leather:

Those brown patches on the old seat are holes in the leather, only discovered after I removed a child seat :o

Rear back new vs old leather:

New leather close up:

Old leather close up:

The new leather from Gahh seems great. The colour looks great and it feels so much more supple than my old leather which has certainly seen better days with cracks and tears.

I had read of the old shiny vs new dull leather but think the new leather is so much nicer and actually prefer the dull finish. As I also ordered a complete set of leather, I don't expect any colour difference to be an issue.

I also replaced all the rubberised padding in each of the seats and will check the seat springs where necessary for that like-new feel although I think my current pads are just as good. The soft springs in the rear seat will either be replaced or supported by foam to increase the firmness.

The front seat squabs seems to have been changed to the leaf-spring type but still do not offer adequate support. These will also have the springs replaced or supported by foam to increase the firmness.

Old vs new carpets:

New carpet close up:

Old carpet close up:

The new carpets also from Gahh look great but there were too many odd shaped pieces of carpet that I have no idea where they should go. I gave up trying to lay them all out and hope there is some guide as to where they all go.

There is a definite green tinge to the colour which was not in the old (non-orginal) carpets. I don't think the colour difference will be an issue as I am replacing all carpet panels but hope there isn't a clash with the red of the car. There also seems to be some slight variations to the shape of some of the pieces and I am hoping the older carpets were just not cut as well. We'll see in due course :-\

Again, thanks Joe for helping with the order!
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200


awesome work! v inspriing - i've been off the forum for a few weeks as my mother is ill, but hope to get up to speed again soon. i am now in a mind to remove the body from the chassis and rebuilt as much as possible piece by piece. no point doing it half way i figure. that new leather loooks simply stunning! :) :)


Hi Mforcer

This is one cracker of a project.  By the looks of things, you're aiming for a Charlie-type restoration (the Norwegian with the blue, now black Benz).  The new leather interior looks great, I prefer the matt finish of the new leather.  Now may have been the time to retro fit rear headrests if you wanted to.  I look forward to the day that I can do a tear down on my Merc, but I will need to keep my interior, no cloth replacement available from any source as far as I know.  I will be somewhat scared when it does finally make it to the body shop, given some of the rust issues you have on your car that has been in a dry environment as opposed to our wet weather and salted winter roads ???

Love following these resto posts (now TJ has two running concurrent), keep up with the enthusiasm, we're all looking forward to the end result.

1979 450SE "Mrs White"
2022 Touareg-R 3.0TSi Hybrid

TJ 450

Excellent! I very much like the colour combo as well.

As recommended by MT, I'm liking the idea of this interior colour for the 280SE.

Your car will look great at the end of this, Mforcer.

1976 450SEL 6.9 1432
1969 300SEL 6.3 1394
2003 ML500