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Old 20th March 2016, 15:26   #31
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Default '83 Mercedes 240D - My W123 Restoration Diary

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Originally Posted by Screwdriva View Post
Contrary to popular opinion, these cars only last forever IF routine preventative maintenance has been carried out.
.

True. But then again routine preventive maintenance is pretty minimal and easy. Also, these cars are very easy to maintain and restore yourself if you are into that sort of thing. (e.g. Somebody like me)

I don't know of any other car which is so easy and well thought out in term of being able to take bits off and put them back on. Mercedes engineers must have really thought this through. Try and replace for instance your average door card. In most cases you will end up breaking a few clips. Not so on the W123.

You can have the engine out in under an hour if you know what you are doing.

Parts availability at least in Europe is very good. You would be surprised what parts you can get straight over the counter at any regular main stream dealer. If they don't stock it locally they will have it within 24 hours from the central warehouses.

Prices are reasonable. The after market for spare parts for these W123 has hardly started because Mercedes tend to keep parts availability pretty high up to 25-35 years after they phase out a model. Pretty unique in my experience. At the other side of the spectrum, buy a brand new Alfa Romeo and your local dealer is likely not to have any parts and there will be an after market parts starting as soon as Alfa Romeo announces a new model.

Jeroen

Last edited by Jeroen : 20th March 2016 at 15:28.
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Old 22nd March 2016, 04:34   #32
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Default Re: '83 Mercedes 240D - My W123 Restoration Diary

You are spot on. But genuine new parts in India are not as easily available.

Smart classic Mercedes owners will use whatever resources they have to get original parts shipped to India from the EU.
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Old 22nd March 2016, 16:59   #33
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Default Re: '83 Mercedes 240D - My W123 Restoration Diary

Its an acquisition.Like the step by step approach in restoration so that the car gets a new beautiful look each day.Looking for more pictures.Congratulations.
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Old 23rd March 2016, 21:32   #34
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Default Re: '83 Mercedes 240D - My W123 Restoration Diary

Happy Holi, guys! Bowman, is this German book helpful in your restoration?
http://www.amazon.in/Mercedes-Benz-W...words=mercedes
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Old 24th March 2016, 04:02   #35
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Default Re: '83 Mercedes 240D - My W123 Restoration Diary

Its a good book. However, if you really want to restore a W123 to original spec, you need to use the book written by the EU's leading W123 expert - Mark Cosovich

http://www.w123book.com
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Old 24th March 2016, 07:34   #36
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I have both these books but the most comprehensive is the one written by Mark Cosovich and Martin Buckly.
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Old 26th March 2016, 16:24   #37
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Default Re: '83 Mercedes 240D - My W123 Restoration Diary

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe M View Post
Did oil + filter change in my 180E yesterday. The engine and transmission are so smooth I can't believe it's 24 yr old now. The 123s, W201s and 124s used the same transmission, which is one of Merc's best ever.
Oil and filter change at regular intervals is probably the most important thing an owner can do that has the most effect on car longevity. I'm sure that is also a good reason why your car feels new, but there is no these are superbly engineered machines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
Congratulations with the W123.

.
.
.
Jeroen
Thanks Jeroen. I would agree that rust is indeed the biggest killer of these cars, not the mechanicals. The rolling chassis of the car has the potential to outlast the sheetmetal by decades. When I was prospecting a car I had graded cars with good engine but rust issues below cars with no rust but with say poor engine compression.

You have very accurately pointed out some of the common issues found on these cars. I will soon list what I found on mine and we can compare notes...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Screwdriva View Post
Contrary to popular opinion, these cars only last forever IF routine preventative maintenance has been carried out.

As an example, a simple oil cap dancing test to test diesel engine blowby can speak volumes about the condition of the engine compression, oil leaks and overall health.

Owners have to use OEM Mercedes parts (all still available) to replace glow plugs, rubber parts and filters to keep the car running the way it should.

Sadly, newer owners try to cut corners in the short term only to end up with much more expensive restoration work in the longer term. Rust, as Jeroen rightly points out, can also be a problem and can only be prevented with new OEM MB rubber seals and rust prevention treatments like Waxoyl etc.
This is an interesting point you have brought up considering OEM door seals are in the range of 250 USD and aftermarket ones can be had in the range of 30 to 40 USD. Restorations can be approached in many different ways. At one end of the spectrum is 'money no limit' approach and everything must come from the OEM or better, if possible.

At the other end is of course the commercial restorations which are done within oversight of bottom lines.

My approach is somewhere in between and imho I have tried to strike a judicious balance. What do I mean by a judicious balance. OEM glow plugs, injector nozzles are supplied by Bosch. But there is Monark from Germany which claims to make parts that far exceed OEM specifications. If I can lay my hands on some of these (injector nozzles for sure because they are so critical to how a Diesel engine performs) I will definitely put these in my car.

But door seals is to me not a factor critical enough to justify a 1000 USD spend. Why? Because where I live it rains just 2 months. And the way door seals are I can always take them out and replace them If I am not satisfied...not the same as say replacing piston rings...I hope that makes sense?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinay kamath View Post
Happy Holi, guys! Bowman, is this German book helpful in your restoration?
http://www.amazon.in/Mercedes-Benz-W...words=mercedes
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
I have both these books but the most comprehensive is the one written by Mark Cosovich and Martin Buckly.
Jeroen
Thanks again Jeroen and Vinay. Up till now I have been relying on the Haynes Workshop Manual (not very comprehensive but good for an introduction or for a casual DIYer) and Mercedes Workshop manual (can be accessed online).

I have been following the development of Mark Cosovich's book for some months now and I definitely want to order one. There must be something to learn from a man who can rewind time so well that his cars are delivered as new from Mercedes themselves.

Last edited by aah78 : 8th August 2016 at 20:18. Reason: Large quote edited.
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Old 26th March 2016, 18:18   #38
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Default Re: '83 Mercedes 240D - My W123 Restoration Diary

I would like to open up the next episode of my restoration diary with a big thank you for all your responses to my posts so far.

November 2014

By now I had detailed all the issues with my car. The list looked something like this described exterior most first.

Paint - the car had 80-90 % original paint which could turn out very well with some polishing. However on some spots the car had been resprayed and it was an extremely poor job...dull paint with almost no topcoat and poor colour matching (I’m not sure if Mercedes back then used top coat or was it just base coat?) . This was not something visible from a distance but could be seen on a closer inspection.

Rust - there was some rust under rear windshield screen and under one of the trim pieces (it is very important to keep the area under the exterior trim pieces clean of dust and grime else rust develops). I could also see some rust under the battery.

Body - there was one dent, about the size of a palm on driver side front quarter panel and one on the roof perhaps caused by a monkey.

Electrical/Vacuum systems - all fine except window regulator fuse which had a tendency to blow. Vacuum door actuators disconnected by owner after drivers side actuator developed a leak and replaced by electrical actuators.

Interiors - some cracks in the dash, worn out driver’s seat with sagging springs. Leak in oil pressure gauge fixed by replacing with a Mahindra oil pressure unit. Another example of sacrilege.

Engine - I had always noticed that the car had a rough idle. It could be caused by any one of these - clogged injectors, won out motor mounts, stuck piston rings, poorly adjusted value clearance, loss of compression in one of the cylinders and few more possible causes.

The first thing I checked was the motor mounts and though new recently replaced they were not in a condition bad enough to cause the rough idle.

I then tried to eliminate clogged injectors and ran injector cleaner through 2 or 3 tank full. I also ordered a set of feeler gauges and adjusted the value clearance to specs. But nope, no improvement. So by process of elimination the only explanation left was poor compression in one of the cylinders which was causing the engine to loose balance...hmmm.

By this time I had also pretty much made up my mind that I will fully restore my car and had started to research workshops. The three possibilities were

1. Cama Motors Ahmedabad - this is one of the first automobile dealership to open shop in Gujarat in 1945. They have been associated with many different marques in their long history and were also the only Mercedes Benz dealer in Gujarat for a long period before their relationship with the automaker turned sour and was ended by bitter litigation. But now I think they are not associated with any particular manufacturer but service all luxury brands.

The reason I shortlisted them was because of their reputation of being a typical Parsi owned enterprise. I also knew that the current owner is also a Mercedes enthusiast and there is a beautiful W108/109 belonging to him parked in the workshop. And besides they were associated with Mercedes for so long. They have an in house paint booth and one of the best engine shops in Ahmedabad in almost a next door. This also seemed to be my most expensive option.

2. Royal Motors Vadodara - this is one reputed third party specialist in German cars who has been operating for almost 30-35 years now. I heard about his establishment from one of my friend who had got his W124 engine overhauled at his place. His review was 'reliable and reasonable'.

3. Pappu body shop in Gandhinagar - Pappu bai runs one of the most successful body shop in gandhinagar. He is an honest and hardworking guy...honest enough to tell me when I showed him the car that he will never be able to match the factory finish on the paint job but was willing to work on it. He also told me he knew a guy who specializes on these engines and they can together tackle the job. This would probably have been the cheapest guy for me to work with and was almost 5 mins drive from my home...I would very easily check on progress.

My first pit stop was Cama Motors. After thoroughly cleaning the car I drove it to the workshop one Saturday. I wanted two things to be done. First, and most important, I wanted a compression test performed after check valve clearance. And two, I wanted the workshop to do a detailed once over to identify all that was in need of fixing.

One week later I was given the report that the compression in cylinder no. 1 was 170 PSI. In the remaining cylinders it was from there to 240 PSI. So not only was one cylinder weak but also there was a considerable spread. The inevitable was just being confirmed.

I decided the next step was to have an estimate prepared for overhauling the engine and doing a complete paint job on my car along with new interiors. It was agreed that the estimate will be finalized in 2 weeks after which the manager would give me a call to understand if there is go ahead from me. However two weeks turned to 4 and on repeated reminders I was told that their parts supplier was finding it difficult to identify bill of material correct to my VIN number and hence it was taking more time. I was a bit disappointed as I could myself do this job in half a day but decided to wait for few more days.

Finally my patience snapped when one day I called up the manager to know if the estimate was ready and I got no response after which I got a text saying 'busy in a meeting'. I said F*&* you...I will find other ways.

I was driving down the Ahmedabad Baroda expressway one evening and driving on expressways is such a boring task. My mind was wandering in the direction of my next big decision on the W123 project and I knew I had to make contact with the only unexplored option (by this time I had discarded option 1 and was not too sure about the quality I could expect from 3) and I decided to give option no 2 a call. The call went unanswered for a few seconds but was them answered by a polite 'hello' (those who have called mechanics in India will understand this part).

Across the line was a guy who sounded like someone more mature for his age. I introduced myself and asked some general questions about his work.

Our conversation that day was something like this.

Me - Does he prefer working on newer cars or older ones as well.

Workshop guy – Most of the cars we work on are newer ones nowadays but he loves working on older ones much more (That sounded interesting)

Me – Which was his favourite amongst the older cars (I had not disclosed him about my W123)?

Workshop guy – (Without a moments hesitation) 'merito favourite car w123 300D hai. Halanki kuch logo ko khadi light wali Mercedes bhi bohut oasand ati hai'. To translate - 'My favourite car is W123 300D. But many people also fancy the ones which came with vertivally placed headlights’. (Okay I must admit I was a bit excited but I wanted to make sure this was not just some sales pitch)

Me - Why 300D and not 240D or 200D?

Workshop guy - The 300D can keep up in modern traffic much better.

Me – Have you heard about the 'OM616' engine?

Workshop guy – Yes that was the engine in a Mercedes 240D and was also made by a few other manufacturers in India.

Me - Was was there a difference between the Mercedes engine and the licensed engines or are they the same and parts can be interchanged?

Workshop guy – The licensed engines are adapted to load carrying applications but and is not exactly the same as the Mercedes engine used in the saloon. And though some parts are interchangeable it is not advisable to do so because different metals have different properties when mated together and could cause uneven wear. But many garages do this.

I had a feeling that my search for a workshop was finally over and we agreed that the next weekend I will drive down my car to his workshop.

Sure enough on 16th November 2014 I took my car down the Ahmedabad Baroda expressway. Here is the video of her cruising down the expressway on that very drive.



The way she flew down those 100 miles that day made me wonder if I should cast aside any thoughts of restoring her. But some decisions had been made

Some keen observers will also notice the much improved seats but also the Mahindra pressure gauge and dash cracks.

I left the car at the workshop for a week with the idea that I will come back ion a week to know what needs to be fixed and what will be the estimates. I returned a week later with my father accompanying me. We finalized the project and shook hands. I was glad to have a workshop that would be my restoration partner.

( to be continued)

Last edited by BowMan : 26th March 2016 at 18:22.
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Old 30th March 2016, 14:06   #39
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Default Re: '83 Mercedes 240D - My W123 Restoration Diary

Quote:
Originally Posted by BowMan View Post
This is an interesting point you have brought up considering OEM door seals are in the range of 250 USD and aftermarket ones can be had in the range of 30 to 40 USD. Restorations can be approached in many different ways. At one end of the spectrum is 'money no limit' approach and everything must come from the OEM or better, if possible.

At the other end is of course the commercial restorations which are done within oversight of bottom lines.

My approach is somewhere in between and imho I have tried to strike a judicious balance. What do I mean by a judicious balance. OEM glow plugs, injector nozzles are supplied by Bosch. But there is Monark from Germany which claims to make parts that far exceed OEM specifications. If I can lay my hands on some of these (injector nozzles for sure because they are so critical to how a Diesel engine performs) I will definitely put these in my car.

But door seals is to me not a factor critical enough to justify a 1000 USD spend. Why? Because where I live it rains just 2 months. And the way door seals are I can always take them out and replace them If I am not satisfied...not the same as say replacing piston rings...I hope that makes sense?
You're not the first person to come up with that logic. And you won't be the first to regret it. The Benz forums are littered with threads from people who bought the aftermarket seals, found that they didn't fit well at all and then purchased the OEM seal. Feel free to search for yourself.

Its not the just rain and the rust you have to worry about. The seals dictate how well the doors close and the amount of road noise that enters the cabin. Yes, there is a very noticeable difference.

Finally, Monark is a good brand but by no means superior to the German made Bosch/ Beru units. Don't believe the marketing from the brand and its sellers. They are all superior only to the parts made in Turkey/ China/ India. If your injectors are old but original DE spec, I'd suggest doing a "Diesel Purge" first (Youtube this) and then seeing if they spray better. If not, then Monark/ Bosch DE replacements would make sense. MB still sells original DE Beru glow plugs (just got a set myself).

For your engine compression, try to get a hold of 2 bottles of Auto-Rx (google the product). This engine oil additive is unique in that it improves compression and restores the sealing properties of internal gaskets. It takes a few thousand kms to work but if you follow the instructions to the letter, it will work wonders on your car. How do I know this? Because I've used this on 4 of my cars and it has worked as promised each time (most recently my W123 300D). Don't use solvent based engine additives and don't use modern fuel additives - they're not meant for our motors and will only degrade internal rubber. Use only Auto-Rx and Liqui moly diesel purge as instructed.

In the case of Mercedes Benz, while there are a few examples of aftermarket items exceeding the factory design, most times, the best option is Stuttgart. This applies to even to the smallest of filters. I've known too many owners regret watching their cars decline in health over the years and wish they hadn't pennywise pound foolish.

The beauty of the W123 is that most OEM replacement parts are not expensive (door seals aside).

Last edited by Screwdriva : 30th March 2016 at 14:18.
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Old 30th March 2016, 18:27   #40
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Default Re: '83 Mercedes 240D - My W123 Restoration Diary

Quote:
Originally Posted by Screwdriva View Post
You're not the first person to come up with that logic. And you won't be the first to regret it. The Benz forums are littered with threads from people who bought the aftermarket seals, found that they didn't fit well at all and then purchased the OEM seal. Feel free to search for yourself.

Its not the just rain and the rust you have to worry about. The seals dictate how well the doors close and the amount of road noise that enters the cabin. Yes, there is a very noticeable difference.

.
I absolutely agree. This is a case of penny wise, pound foolish. In fact it goes for all the seals. I have numerous examples with my Dutch W123 club where we have replaced window seals with aftermarket seals. Never fitted properly, did not look good, after a while leaks developped etc.

On the total cost of acquiring and restoring a W123, the original MB seals are going to be just a drop in the bucket.

Jeroen
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Old 31st March 2016, 11:47   #41
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Default Re: '83 Mercedes 240D - My W123 Restoration Diary

Subscribing to a thread after a long time. Interesting narrative Bowman. Keep it coming. A bit faster if possible. A lot of posters on this thread dont seem to realise you have already completed the restoration over the last couple of years and you are now laying it on us, juicy/witty details and all. You seem to be getting a lot of advise for work that you may have already completed

Appreciate the effort in personally doing most of the work especially the grunt work!

Keep it coming. ASAP
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Old 3rd April 2016, 21:33   #42
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Default Re: '83 Mercedes 240D - My W123 Restoration Diary

Quote:
Originally Posted by Screwdriva View Post
You're not the first person to come up with that logic. And you won't be the first to regret it. The Benz forums are littered with threads from people who bought the aftermarket seals, found that they didn't fit well at all and then purchased the OEM seal. Feel free to search for yourself.

Its not the just rain and the rust you have to worry about. The seals dictate how well the doors close and the amount of road noise that enters the cabin. Yes, there is a very noticeable difference.

Finally, Monark is a good brand but by no means superior to the German made Bosch/ Beru units. Don't believe the marketing from the brand and its sellers. They are all superior only to the parts made in Turkey/ China/ India. If your injectors are old but original DE spec, I'd suggest doing a "Diesel Purge" first (Youtube this) and then seeing if they spray better. If not, then Monark/ Bosch DE replacements would make sense. MB still sells original DE Beru glow plugs (just got a set myself).

For your engine compression, try to get a hold of 2 bottles of Auto-Rx (google the product). This engine oil additive is unique in that it improves compression and restores the sealing properties of internal gaskets. It takes a few thousand kms to work but if you follow the instructions to the letter, it will work wonders on your car. How do I know this? Because I've used this on 4 of my cars and it has worked as promised each time (most recently my W123 300D). Don't use solvent based engine additives and don't use modern fuel additives - they're not meant for our motors and will only degrade internal rubber. Use only Auto-Rx and Liqui moly diesel purge as instructed.

In the case of Mercedes Benz, while there are a few examples of aftermarket items exceeding the factory design, most times, the best option is Stuttgart. This applies to even to the smallest of filters. I've known too many owners regret watching their cars decline in health over the years and wish they hadn't pennywise pound foolish.

The beauty of the W123 is that most OEM replacement parts are not expensive (door seals aside).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
I absolutely agree. This is a case of penny wise, pound foolish. In fact it goes for all the seals. I have numerous examples with my Dutch W123 club where we have replaced window seals with aftermarket seals. Never fitted properly, did not look good, after a while leaks developped etc.

On the total cost of acquiring and restoring a W123, the original MB seals are going to be just a drop in the bucket.

Jeroen
Quote:
Originally Posted by 53BHP View Post
Subscribing to a thread after a long time. Interesting narrative Bowman. Keep it coming. A bit faster if possible. A lot of posters on this thread dont seem to realise you have already completed the restoration over the last couple of years and you are now laying it on us, juicy/witty details and all. You seem to be getting a lot of advise for work that you may have already completed

Appreciate the effort in personally doing most of the work especially the grunt work!

Keep it coming. ASAP
Thank you Gents for your posts. Debating too deep in the seals has a bit of a spoiler warning attached to it. So I will leave it to that and we shall come back to it later in due course.

Good pointers too Screwdriva about restoring some of the lost compression by use of these fluids. There are other fluids too that are used, Marvel Mystery Oil, Liqui Moly Engine Releaser or even Brake Fluid. They work by either reconditioning gaskets and seals or by freeing cylinder piston rings.

I had pondered on these but had decided in favor of a full rebuild. But to each his own.

I am glad for your encouragement 53BHP. As you will see later there will be months I will club together because not much activity took place during those periods or because I have kept fewer photographic records of the happenings were not so interesting. But at other instances I may feel that I need to record in detail....
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Old 3rd April 2016, 22:05   #43
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Default Re: '83 Mercedes 240D - My W123 Restoration Diary

December 2014 and January 2015

December rolled in and the Christmas spirit was everywhere. I was happening to drive by the Ahmedabad Mobil1 distributor was close by and I decided to give him a visit. Correct fluids are very important for a car and although I knew I will not need these for months I splurged a but.

You know you love your car when you buy her Christmas presents even when she is out of town

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I also also glad to have received this instrument cluster from my dear friend and fellow Mercedes enthusiast who I have mentioned before.

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After I had delivered my car at the workshop in Nov very little was done on it. I paid almost weekly visit to the workshop and noticed that it was a very busy operation ran by the three brothers. For a few weeks they enjoyed the car and drove it around...'saab engine thoda weak hai par jab speed pakadti hai to pani ke upar jahaaj jaisi chalti hai' (the engine is a bit weak but when it picks up speed it glides like a ship on water). Obviously he was referring to one of the last great Mercedes that had that legendary wafting ride quality about it It is a car designed when Mercedes stood for itself. Now we have every car manufacturerr wanting to become every other, and so we end up with Mercs that drive like Bimmers and so on and so forth...

After finishing with his youngest brother's wedding (who is the interior and detailing expert) they decided to finally take up my car. One day I was at the workshop and the three of them were having lunch. I quietly waited for them to finish lunch towards the end of which I noticed the eldest nod his head to the other in the direction of my car. Soon my car was brought into the workshop and they started dismantling my car. When these guys work they work really fast. In less than half an hour my car was completely stropped of seats and all interior, all trim pieces...everything...

It was actually a bit painful to watch this.

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The next stop for my car was the Denter.

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January concluded the metalworking bits that were needed on my car and I was happily and eagerly waiting for the next station which would be the Painter's.
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Old 4th April 2016, 01:37   #44
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Default Re: '83 Mercedes 240D - My W123 Restoration Diary

Ah! The dreaded rust...I was wondering when that would make an appearance in your post.

With surface rust, I've found a great solution in "Miracle Paint", an adhesive based rust treatment that bonds to the metal and hardens permanently, arresting rust forever. Check it out and you'll see that its great for areas that are less visible.

My W124 front and rear windscreen and wheel arches have been coated in this treatment as has my W123's sunroof frame. Rust has never returned.
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Old 6th April 2016, 10:23   #45
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Default Re: '83 Mercedes 240D - My W123 Restoration Diary

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Originally Posted by Screwdriva View Post
Ah! The dreaded rust...I was wondering when that would make an appearance in your post.

With surface rust, I've found a great solution in "Miracle Paint", an adhesive based rust treatment that bonds to the metal and hardens permanently, arresting rust forever. Check it out and you'll see that its great for areas that are less visible.

My W124 front and rear windscreen and wheel arches have been coated in this treatment as has my W123's sunroof frame. Rust has never returned.
All warts, moles and tags that I discovered will feature on my narrative Sir
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