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  #1  
Old 05-31-2002, 07:03 PM
MikeTangas's Avatar
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Center console wood panel repair - W126

Any one who has a pre-owned W126 is likely to encounter this problem – the wood panel for the center console is loose at the front edge. It can be lifted up from the console or even shifts while driving. Or maybe you have found the perfect piece of burl wood at the salvage yard, no checking or clouding, but it too is broken at the front edge.

Here are the steps I took to correct this problem while resurrecting the 560SEL. The panel depicted in this write up is an extra I grabbed just for this purpose.



On the face, the panel looks good.

However, once removed you find the panel is now in two pieces.



First step is to remove the center console panel. To do this pull the ashtray drawer out and remove the ashtray insert. With the insert removed you will see two Phillips head screws, remove these screws and pull the ash tray drawer out of the dash. Now gently push the coin tray toward the front of the car until it is free of the center console wood. If your car is equipped with seat heater switches in the coin tray, disconnect the plugs and put the coin tray aside.

With the parking brake set, place the shifter in “N” and gently pry the wood panel toward the front of the car to free the two “L” shaped legs that cam the panel down tight. Once the legs are free you will be able to lift the rear of the panel and disconnect all the switches and remove the panel. You will now be able to also remove the piece of the panel that has broken off.

The first step in repairing the panel is to sand the appropriate places.



Notice how the broken off piece has raised areas? The raised area needs to be cleaned up with sandpaper to ensure a smooth, clean surface.



The panel itself needs to have the mating area sanded smooth. While working the panel you might discover that the wood has splintered along the grain.



Don’t pull this splinter off. Gently sand both sides of the splinter, you want to retain as much of the wood as possible to maintain the integrity of the panel – the fewer voids the stronger the joint.

Once both pieces have been sanded and all saw dust blown from the pieces you are ready to glue up. Start by gently lifting the splinter.

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Old 05-31-2002, 07:04 PM
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Part 2

With the splinter raised you are able to insert a small amount of wood glue between the splinter and the panel body. Next you will apply a small amount of glue to the panel, along the mating area. Do not use too much glue or it will squeeze out, making a mess and filling the recesses that accept the coin tray.



This is about the right amount of glue, possibly just a shade less. Once the glue is on as pictured, take the broken piece and mate it to the panel. As the two pieces come together, slide them against each other to spread the glue evenly on both pieces.



You will need a set of small clamps, similar to those pictured, to clamp the panel up. They can be found at your local home improvement store and should only cost a few dollars.



The panel and broken piece are clamped together securely. Notice how the glue is squeezed out from the joint. This looks like much more glue than it is, plus the majority of the squeeze out went to the backside of the panel.

Note: The larger clamp in the center of the panel is the clamp I use to install shift rod bushings – perfect size for the job.



The leading edge of the panel should now look like this picture. Notice how at the right and left side of the panel there are recesses? The coin tray fits into these recesses. You have to be careful not to get an excess amount of glue in the cutouts or you will not be able to fit the coin tray. The excess squeeze out in the center of the panel should not interfere with the tray but I would try to clean some of the glue out with a damp paper towel to be safe. More squeeze out than pictured will have to be cleaned as the narrow groove between the recesses will be filled and the coin tray will not sit flush in the groove.

Once that is done put the clamped panel off to the side and let is sit for 24 hours. Good wood glues sets up fairly quick, allowing you to work a little quicker but due to the use and tension the panel will receive I prefer to let it set a long time.

Prior to installing the repaired panel, you want to check that the staples which hold the cam legs to the panel are tight. Often someone not familiar with how the panel is installed will try to pry up on it. This action tends to loosen the staples from the wood.



You can lay the panel, as shown, on the workbench, with a soft towel between the panel and bench. Using a small punch and a plastic, or rubber mallet, gently tap the staples down. It doesn’t take much to push the staples back in and tighten up the mounting. Upon reinstalling the panel use care not to exert any upward force on the legs to ensure the staples don’t pull out again

That is how I repaired the broken center console wood panel. It is a fairly fast job, the only hold up is having to wait twenty-four hours for the glue to completely cure. I’m not sure there is a “wrong” wood glue to use, but I use basic carpenter’s yellow wood glue, the stuff made by Elmer’s.

Hope this helps to fix some of those broken center panels out there.
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  #3  
Old 05-31-2002, 07:29 PM
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Thumbs up

Even I do not own a W126 all the information on you article is very interesting. Thank you for sharing it !

I also have a very particular experience while trying to restore a spare wood console for my W124. After checking with some professional restoration places to refinish the piece, I ended up getting a much more affordable quote from a place that service and restores pianos. They told me that they can refinish the wood and bring it to it's original radiant condition.

I have not receive it back yet but if I am satisfied with the results I will provide their information as a contact point.

I took some before pictures of it and I am planning to post them with the after ones for your review.
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  #4  
Old 06-05-2002, 06:45 PM
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great info!

Now.. if someone would have info on repairing cracks in the wood without paying $140 or buying a new piece. Or is there no choice but to shell out $140?
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Old 06-05-2002, 07:09 PM
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Reread the last line of the first paragraph Snibble . The salvage yards are a good starting place to beat the $140-$190 for a new panel. Find one that isn't cracking, and if broken, follow the directions posted. You'll save a bundle.
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'73 280SEL 4.5 (9/72)- RIP
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'02 CLK320 Cabriolet - wifey's mid-life crisis

2012 VW Jetta Sportwagon TDI...at least its a diesel

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  #6  
Old 06-06-2002, 12:29 AM
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thanks I will check it out when the weather here improves. Its been raining all of this week.
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  #7  
Old 08-31-2003, 03:52 PM
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I have started to use Gorilla Glue and have been very pleased with the results. Seems very tough.

Just be sure to watch the foaming action that comes up about 10 minutes after application. I believe it is designed to do this to fill gaps evenly.

Mike, thanks for this posting. Great tips and detail!

Haasman
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  #8  
Old 09-01-2003, 01:08 PM
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I know this is exactly what you guys are trying to avoid, but I just sent mine to Heritage Woodworks :p Not just for that piece breaking off, but the top was very cracked and scratched. On top of that, my piece has the cutout for the european trip computer, so I couldn't find another one over here anyhow. I haven't gotten them back yet (I sent another piece too), but when I do, I will share the results.
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  #9  
Old 10-09-2003, 08:54 PM
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mbtjc, will you share the results of your wood from heritage woodworks? how much did it cost. i am curious if they would cut holes for seat heater switches in my console.

cheers

eric
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Old 10-09-2003, 09:27 PM
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Yes....it's awesome! You can see all the swirls of the woodgrain very clearly. It looks really rich and deep. When sun shines on it, it really shines. Now I just want to get the rest of my wood done, esp. the piece around the HVAC controls! It looks like crap in comparision. Can't afford it right now though. Both the dash piece and the console cost me about 250, so figure roughly half that for just the console. As far as them cutting holes, I don't know, you'd have to ask them. Somehow I doubt it though because the switches snap into a plastic piece that is attached to the wood from underneath. So you'd have to find a way to attach the switches once the holes are cut. But ask them, ya never know.
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  #11  
Old 10-09-2003, 09:33 PM
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thanks a lot!
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  #12  
Old 07-27-2007, 03:26 PM
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Glue

It is ok to use the yellow Elmer's Carpenter's wood glue, but probably the best for these applications is to use Titebond III, which is a combination of the polyurethane and the regular old hide glue. A close second is liquid hide glue. Both are available at Home Depot.
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Old 07-27-2007, 04:07 PM
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Fine Woodworking recently tested a number of glues for holding power. I believe the Titebond was the clear winner.
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