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Old 08-17-2007, 04:34 PM
bunch1962's Avatar
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Unhappy Removing scratches from 1991 420 SEL

My Dad graciously gave me his 1991 420 SEL. He had taken great care of it inside (the interior is in new condition) and out. He was by no means into detailing however, and as a result the exterior paint is riddled with small blemishes, swirl marks and scratches – none severe – but they are noticeable. In some cases he had touched-up scratches with matching Mercedes-brand paint, leaving behind raised streaks of dried paint. The blemishes consist of little match head-sized dots that I cannot seem to polish-away; they appear to be sap from an ash tree that hung over my folks’ driveway. The sap was baked-on by the sun.

From ten feet away the paint looks great, but up-close it’s riddled with the aforementioned scratches et al. I have attempted to polish-away some of the worst scratches with everything from rubbing compound to Scratch-X; these made the paint shinier but left the blemish intact. Many of these products are tailored to work on cars that have clear-coat applied over the paint; my 420 SEL does not have clear-coat.

It seems like I need to touch-up the scratches and then polish-down the paint from around the scratches so that I have an even surface. Trouble is, I don’t know of a straightforward technique for doing this. Any suggestions would be most-appreciated.

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Old 08-31-2007, 04:33 PM
TX76513's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Brandon, Mississippi
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I can some what visualize what you are describing but it can be difficult to give you accurate fix without viewing the problem. A common problem with someone using the little touch up bottles is the paint is very thick and a "bead" is applied. The end result that most users get is that "looks OK from ten feet away. Purchase some 1000 and 1500 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Dip a small square of the paper in a bowl of water and dish detergent. Using only fingertip pressure sand the bead. You should be able to tell when to switch up to 1500 as the paper will get a lubricated feel to it. This is somewhat hard to describe and the "feel" is obtained from experience. After sanding the best looking results are obtained with a powered buffer. Use a mid grade rubbing compound (not polishing compound) and beginners should only use a foam polishing head and no greater than 1200 rpm. This is actually something better learned in person but it can be learner through some basic trial and error. If you are going to jump in start somewhere inconspicuous for the trial and error stage, don't start with a hood or trunk lid.

Don't waste money on colored waxes and snake oil scratch repair. If the paint is gone it's gone. Best some of these products do is disguise the blemish temporarily.

Once your skill is profected you can easily see what blemishes can be rubbed out (tree sap, bird do, etc) and what will have to be repainted. Armed with your buffer, foam head, rubbing compound and a spray bottle with water (keep the compound lubricated) you can take on the world and make some pretty decent cash on the side.
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Last edited by TX76513; 08-31-2007 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 09-01-2007, 06:02 PM
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Location: Columbus OH
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I personally would go with even higher grit, like 2000 or 3000. Also, I'd suggest using blue painter's tape to tape around the blemish so you don't accidentally sand around it too much. Plus you sand to the tape level, and then use a fine cut cleaner to get it totally flush.
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