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Old 03-29-2003, 11:21 AM
300SDog's Avatar
gimme a low-tech 240D
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: central ky
Posts: 3,602
DIY - wood trim dash restoration answer to Peter's question on Aaron's car, I thought this deserved its own thread in case somebody title searches "wood trim restoration" on this forum - or if anybody plans to refurbish their dash this Summer, or has anything to add.

Have never restored dash wood on 280SE/8..... but comparable vintage Heckflosse wood is easily removable, and the /8 should not be so different. I once transplanted & refinished wood from '66 220S rotted body, hopeless parts car into '63 190c. The results were fantastic!!

Easily the most gratifying improvement i've made on ANY of my cars - and I'll do it again when finally getting my hands on another 190 fin-body, a diesel of course, that comes stock with bakelite plastic dash instead of wood.

Here's what i learned and how it went....

Corner air vent chambers are held with springs from behind dash - just pop the spring clips and vent chambers pull right out. Unscrew electric switch collars, pull the radio, glove box, clock, ash-tray, heater controls, etc.

When all the fiddly bits have been removed, reach underneath for blue plastic thumb nuts behind the dash that grip threaded metal dowels fixed into wood fascia. You might also have to take out the radio speaker to reach in and grab plastic thumb nuts securing wood strip at the windshield.

Gather all wood trim including window frame pieces, marking the back of window bits for reassembly in same location..... then sand, stain and varnish the wood all together..... that way you can get the same exact shade, rubbing the stain to achieve identical results on each piece.

The entire wood project might take 2 full weekends for somebody with very good mechanical ability and blue collar stamina to see it through completion.

'80 300SD/ w116
'79 240D 4-spd
'71 750cc Guzzi

previously owned:

'83 240D 4-spd
'77 280SEL 4-spd
'74 280/8
'72 250/8
'65 220Sb 4-spd
'63 220Sb 4-spd
'63 190c 4-spd
'61 220Sb 4-spd
'60 190b 4-spd
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Old 03-29-2003, 09:25 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: New York City
Posts: 28
Wood Trim W113 Cars

Wood trim removal for 113 Pagodas.

There is wood along the windshield, on the removable hardtop, and the center console. Removal is a challenge only for the windshield pieces.

The passenger side piece is accessed by removing the glove box and the radio (or radio blank panel)...also easier if the top speaker is out. Look through these holes for two blue plastic knurled nuts (9 mm)...remove the nuts (keep an eye out for the washer on top of each nut.) Then pull the trim up and out. Caution: the right end of the trim fits slightly under the "A" pillar...a little wiggle and it should come out without removing the pillar. A really tight fit might require loosening or removing the pillar.

The driver side trim is more difficult but here goes. Access is through the tachometer hole. (Actually, the entire wood trim job is best done when the tach has to come out maybe for a rebuild etc).

Read this all the way before starting. To remove the tach: remove the decorative panel below the dash held by two or three screws. This reveals the metal dash bottom. Remove the electric junction box just below the tach and push it aside. Remove the two wire holders to either side where the junction box was attached. Have to be on your back, your head on the pedals looking up the dash. (Never said it was easy.) Push the wire harnesses around to get access into the deep part behind the tach.

With a tiny fingers, loosen the fingertight single knurled nut on the bolt in the back center of the tach. The bracket holding the tach is held by this nut. Now remove the single wire from the tach center post. Now remove the bracket.

Now get up and rest. Go to the front of the tach. Before you pull the tach: make sure the tach cable can pass through the firewall hole, some have tar or a tight grommet that prevents the cable from moving...then when the tach is pulled into the car, the end of the cable gets pulled off. (Not good.)

When the cable is free to move in the firewall hole, pull the tach gentle inside the car an inch or two until you can get some fingers in to remove the tach cable end and the two light wires. Now the tach comes out. (Mark and bag everything, make drawings. etc)

Now look in the tach hole for two blue plastic nuts holding the wood trim. Then remove the third blue nut in the center through the radio hole. After they are out, takes some maneuvering to get the trim up and out since it is a very tight fit between the windshield gasket and the instrument binnacle.

Suggest taping the binnacle to prevent scratching. Also watch out for the "A" pillar issue noted above. Two wood shims under the centers of the two trim pieces will also come off when you take the last piece of trim out. The shims go under the trims and above the dash when re-installing.

Now do the wood treating thing. Then reverse the above to re-install. The most difficult part is getting the driver side back into position without damaging the instrument binnacle. Tape the binnacle and keep calm.

Sorry for the long post but this can save a lot of head scratching I hope.

Richard M
1971 280SL Tobacco Brown; 4 speed manual; Cognac interior; Jump Seat; 75,000 miles. Can be seen at
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Old 03-30-2003, 03:33 AM
Posts: n/a
What way would you go about reapinting the wood? just stain and varnish it, or get all the wood french polished?
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Old 03-30-2003, 04:48 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Northern California
Posts: 55
The wood trim in my 260 is in really bad shape. California sun, no doubt (I assume that said sun would explain the oxidized, destroyed paint on the roof--repaint this summer! :-) )

I would like to replace the trim/refinish it. It is pretty badly cracked, and will probably need to be replaced. Plus, the previous owner's sloppy stereo install led to some broken pieces.

Does anybody have dash pieces for a W124 they would be interested in selling? Or, know a place in Eastern Washington or near Sacramento, CA that I could aquire such?
jeremy wood
'88 260E ~200,700 miles
- All stock, except for Blaupunkt "Miami Beach"
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Old 03-30-2003, 12:24 PM
Gregg Bambo Jr
Posts: n/a
I have restored the interior wood on Jaguars & Volvo but have never heard the term "French Polish" applied to refinishing before. What is the definition or procedure of that application? If Mercedes wood is as thin as a Jag's, do not sand it or you will go right through it! I would use stripper and then a very fine steel wool to clean it up in preparation for final finishing with boat UV blocking urethane.
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Old 03-30-2003, 02:59 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Maynard, MA
Posts: 73
French polish

Frensh polishing is a finishing technique using shellac. Many coats are applied and rubbed it creating a BEAUTIFUl finish. I have detailed instructions if anyone is interested. BUT, I don't think this is appropriate for the wood in a car. I think the pieces should be refinished using a marine spar varnish--very hard and UV protective.

About stripping---my dash panel has delaminated in a few small places. I'm goint to live with it. I'm not sure about using strippers. I'd be concerned about further delaminating the wood. And I know how dangerous sanding the laminate is. I'm going to do a little more searching. I'll post what I find.

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Old 10-18-2008, 10:12 PM
jmk jmk is offline
Former Paint Maker
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Cleveland, OH
Posts: 352
Well, wood is my other coating expertise.

For exterior durability, Phenolic based (not urethane) spar varnishes are the best for exterior durability. The best material I know of is Pratt and Lambert Vitralite R7 UVa spar varnish. I personally love the material. When I was at SW (Pratt and Lambert is owned by SW), I created a waterborne, 0 VOC version of the material. Never could get anyone to market it although.

Disadvantage of this material: it skins a lot in the can, and it has an amber color to it.

For interior wood, a urethane may work better. It has better mechanical properities than a phenolic. You can get water white urethanes. There is no such thing as a water white phenolic.

Strippers: use Peel Away #7. Not #6, not #1, not #8. The material is made by Dumond corporation. I have tried a lot of strippers in my time, and this one is the best. It is strong enough to strip 2k urethane or epoxy. the pH is 7 so it does not raise the grain of wood or burn your hands. It is much safer than methylene chloride. Just make sure you follow instructions and do not try to rush the job. Use the paper that comes with the product. If you run out of paper, freezer paper works almost as well. Do not rush the stripping process. Methylene chloride works faster, but it is so strong that it dissolves the paint film. Peel away #7 tends to release the paint film from the substrate. The film usually comes off intact.

I've noticed some Minwax products being recomended on the site. Use Pratt and Lambert or SW stains if you can match the color. They are more durable (SW makes all three).

One word of warning: I have not tried any of these materials on Mercedes trim. My experience comes from working on boats, houses, and formulating the actual coatings. If anyone tries any of these products, it would be good to hear from you.
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Old 10-19-2008, 02:52 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 5,089
Originally Posted by Gregg Bambo Jr View Post
I have restored the interior wood on Jaguars & Volvo but have never heard the term "French Polish" applied to refinishing before.
It's a common term used in the UK for antique furniture restorers who would restore scratched or damage wood. You can even look them up in the Yellow pages by searching for french polishing.

Here is an entry in wikipedia:

With best regards

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