Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Shark!

Sorry for the lack of Spitfire news recently - I've been working on 'The Shark'! That's the nickname my girlfriend's gives my Mercedes Benz 300CE 24! I bought it last year as a bit of fun. It was cheap, fast, had ruched leather and seemingly only needed a very small amount of work to make it a very usable modern classic.

Unfortunately, that small amount of work has been increasing by the month! I bought it in the knowledge that it needed a new front wing and the wheels refurbing but during the winter the windscreen cracked by the centre mirror and on the lower drivers side. I got Auto Windscreens out to have a look at it and they identified the cause as a rust bubble on the windscreen frame - so that was added to the 'to do' list!

The next problem to crop up was rusty rear subframe mounts. This is a bit of a common problem with these cars and isn't something you can see very easily when buying because the underseal on these W124 Mercs is very thick and solid and does a very good job of hiding rust.I only noticed mine when I was refitting the newly refurbished alloy wheels. After a quick poke with a screwdriver and a go with a wire wheel, I realised I was going to have to bite the bullet and do a proper repair.

It's definitely a '5 spanners' job! So far the order of events has been...remove the rear seats, detach abs sensor wire, jack up the back and support on axle stands, remove exhaust, remove handbrake mechanism, unbolt diff from propshaft (which has a rotoflex style flexdisk!), remove rear suspension arms, remove the four subframe bolts, remove old subframe bushes, repaint subframe with POR15, cut off old subframe mounts and prepare new mounts for fitting. Despite rumours to the contrary on the internet, Mercedes still make the subframe mounts even if they do think they'll only fit the estate version!

These are the 4 subframe bushes. They are a very complex design with liquid inside them and large alloy centres. It took me ages to knock them out and they fell apart when I did!

This is the rusty old subframe with all the various suspension arms. The subframe is now looking a lot better after a few days of gritblasting (at home in the garden) and a good coating of POR15.

So there we go, it might not be a Triumph but at least it's rusty and in pieces!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

More Pictures from the NEC Classic Motor Show 2011!

At the time of writing, it's covered with snow outside and it's absolutely freezing. I spent some time working on the car this afternoon but it's not easy keeping momentum up when you've got a couple of hundred spot welds to drill out and you can see your own breath! While warming up with a cup of tea, I found a few more photographs from the NEC in November. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What Lurks Beneath...

Okay, I've got a bit distracted recently with the lathe, the tool trolley and my trip to the NEC. It's time to get back to the Spitfire! It's just amazing how decent a car can look and yet still hide all manner of bodgery! I keep telling myself that I'm one step ahead of most restorers in that I've got fully working, tried and tested mechanicals and that I've really only got bodywork and paint to do but it's not easy keeping the momentum up!

I'm still slowly getting through the bodywork on the front half of the car. The bonnet top panel only needs to be separated from the drivers side bonnet cone panel and a minor repair made to the flange before it's good to go. The passenger side headlight support panel (a Steelcraft panel) is clamped in place and looks to be quite a good fit around the headlight area but looks like it might need a bit of a trim where it meets the wing. The bonnet strengthener is clamped in place too and I'm now working on fitting up the drivers side support panel. Next step for me is getting a new bonnet strengthening bar and start trial fitting the wheelarch panels. I did buy one off eBay but it turned out to be a bit bent so I had to scrap it!

This weekend I turned my attention to the drivers side rear wing. It seemed solid enough but when I passed over it with a 'Dronco' clean and strip disc I was in for a nasty surprise!

Yeah, that's a seam weld running across the bottom half of the panel! The welding isn't bad but there is some horrible distortion in the panel and there was a lot of filler used to cover it! Next on my list of unpleasant was discoveries was this...

It's a fairly minor wheelarch dent. It's not too bad but it's an annoyance none the less! Finally, and I've saved the best for last, I found this...

I did cut into that a bit with some tinsnips to neaten it up so I didn't cut myself on it, but most of the metal was removed with my bare hands! A large chunk of boot floor, inner and outer wing literally came off in my hands!

Finding the wing in such poor condition has really made my mind up to replace it. There doesn't seem much point in repairing the back of it when the front's already been done and there's a dent in the middle. You may as well do the whole thing while you can! It needs to come off anyway because I need to do the B pillar too as it's rusted through on the drivers side. I've already got a repair section for the back half of the inner wing so hopefully with that in and a new inner wheelarch (it has multiple patches) I should be back in business!

I made another annoying discovery this weekend too. When pulling off the weatherseal around the door aperture I realised that the flange where the outer sill meets the strengthener and the floorpan looked a bit odd. My worst fears were confirmed when I managed to slip a knife blade between the outer sill and the strengthener and move it about a foot without hitting a weld. I really need to look into this closer - the sills are supposed to have been replaced before I bought the car and I was hoping not to have to do too much work on them. I'm just glad I didn't have an accident in it - a large part of the cars strength is in those sills.

Finally, here's a few pictures of my boot. The boot floor looks like it may just be repairable but the rear valance needs full on replacement. Lot's of welding fun to be had in the future!

Monday, November 14, 2011

NEC Classic Motor Show 2011

On Saturday I made my annual pillgrimage to the NEC for the Classic Car Show. I got there early on the saturday to try and take in as much as possible before it got too busy! I was glad I did! When I left the Top Gear Live show was in full swing and the whole NEC seemed to be absolutely rammed! I'm definately going to take a day off work and go on the Friday next year.

The lights in the exhibition halls do very strange things to cameras so it's not easy to get good shots, especially with my little point and shoot Pentax, but I think I came away with some quite good pictures this year. Enjoy!

Renault Spider - I remember reading about these in Car and Car Conversions when they first came out!

This was sporting a modern Zetec powerplant!

This was a nice TR8!

One of my all time favourites - Mercedes 450SEL 6.9!