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  1. #1
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    W124 wood trim types / refinish

    Hi all,

    I know w124's came with Zebrano or Burlwood trim. I am taking into the interior of my 500E & I have a better used Ashtray in my spares.

    It looks much the same in colour etc compared to the original 500E item. (Except this other one is in better nick) Top wood is the spare one. Bottom one is the 500E tray

    Are there other wood types (In addition to Zebrano & Burlwood) or is this replacement the same type but with natural variations in the wood? In a nutshell- is there only Burlwood & Zebrano types full stop- or more woods?

    Thabks in advance

    Joe
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    1987 w124 200 E36 AMG Project car - ongoing
    1990 w124 300E-24 Fully Restored
    1992 w124 500E Rolling Restoration - ongoing
    1995 w202 C36 AMG The donor for the w124 E36
    2007 w211 E220CDI Avantgarde Daily Driver

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    There was also bird's eye maple which was used, I think, in the Limiteds. I've never seen it in person.

    The two in your picture both look to be Burlwood. There's quite a bit of variation between the burl pieces across cars.

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Meilville is 100% correct. Zebrano and Burled Walnut are the only two woods used in mainstream 124's. The Limiteds had Bird's Eye Maple standard with an option for Walnut instead.

    Various samples of the same Walnut wood can look drastically different in color and grain. Old, used pieces tend to be much lighter in color due to sun fading. I've purchased new Limo woods for some of my cars and it was very dark. If you want all the wood to match grain + color, you need to keep it all original and have it professionally refinished by Madera or a similar pro shop.

    Photo below shows Burled Walnut next to Zebrano. The grains are very, very different and new walnut is much darker then new zebrano.

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Thanks guys – that’s all I needed to know. I am happy to have better condition timber items even if it means very slight variations in appearance. I am satisfied I am not installing the 'wrong' timber now.

    Much better that than cracked / faded wood. Luckily Irish parts cars tend to have very good condition wood trim in them -with almost zero sun fading. So some parts I can replace outright with good spares in my 500E.
    1987 w124 200 E36 AMG Project car - ongoing
    1990 w124 300E-24 Fully Restored
    1992 w124 500E Rolling Restoration - ongoing
    1995 w202 C36 AMG The donor for the w124 E36
    2007 w211 E220CDI Avantgarde Daily Driver

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    All US-spec V-8 W124 models (124.034, 124.036) came with burl walnut, as did US-spec C124 coupes and A124 cabriolets.

    As indicated, E500 Limited models came with BEM (birds eye maple or walnut) which is .... different.

    I believe that non-US V-8 models also came with burl walnut as well, but could be specified with zebrano wood if the buyer wanted to tick that box at the time of ordering. In fact, any "Euro" 124 could be specified with burl walnut, if the owner wanted it. Even the lowliest 200D.

    US-spec S124 wagons, W124 sedans (gas and diesel) that were NOT 400E/E420 and 500E/E500 and cabrio/coupe models came with zebrano wood as standard fare. However, I have seen a few US-spec 124 sedans with factory burl walnut, so evidently in a few rare cases the cars were shipped to the US with burl walnut at the owner's request. Either that, or someone did a DAMN good job of fitting V-8 burl walnut to a car after the fact. I just recently saw a 1995 E320 sedan in the wrecking yard that had factory burl walnut wood. I did a damn triple-take when I saw that, and examined it closely.

    Philosophically speaking, MB wood is a very interesting discussion. Wood changed very much in model year 1973, when MB went from a lacquered finish to the urethane-coated wood that we are all familiar with. The old-school (pre-73) wood had some super interesting variants, including the very exotic African Macassar Ebony that my 300SEL 6.3 had. There were some other lighter woods, as well as burl walnut and such too back in the old days.

    Properly refinishing the urethane-coated wood that we have is a very different process than refinishing the "old school" MB wood.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    I've never seen anything else than burlwood in E500E Euro or Japan spec. On the other hand I've seen maybe 4-5 in person so far so my experience is very limited. You guys are lucky that you can source almost new looking trim parts from the salvage yards. It's almost impossible to come across a good quality wood part here, they all have been already picked and have fat prices on eBay etc. What is quite popular in PL is getting them refurbished - it doesn't cost a fortune and when done properly with good quality urethane you won't be able to distinguish between new and used part. Just my 2 cents...
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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Yes cars might rust badly in our climate but interiors fare well. So luckily I have the good used wood roller top for the console storage box + a great condition replacement ashtray.

    Problem is all of this stuff is NLA from Mercedes. So I have my centre console gearshift wood to deal with now. For that I have no replacement. So I shall re-finish myself. I am aware this will not be a fast or easy process but if I apply autobody skills (Since as spraying 2K clearcoat) it should turn out very good.


    I intend to basically do this-
    Carefully sand off the existing lacquer keeping the finish flat.

    Clean + spray first clearcoat in order to gauge colour. (When wood is sealed / Gloss)

    Apply several light spray coats of tinted Urethane UV resistant Lacquer(s) to achieve desired colour - matching as close to the other trim I have.

    Several 2K clearcoats with wet sanding in between.


    Yes I could use Madera or similar - but that would be too easy! I prefer the hard work

    If there is any interest in a ‘DIY Wood restore’ please let me know & I will document the stages. (Maybe people prefer to use Madera instead of DIY)
    1987 w124 200 E36 AMG Project car - ongoing
    1990 w124 300E-24 Fully Restored
    1992 w124 500E Rolling Restoration - ongoing
    1995 w202 C36 AMG The donor for the w124 E36
    2007 w211 E220CDI Avantgarde Daily Driver

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Yes please Joe, I would love to know how you restore your woods.

    mine have cracks in them so would like for them to be refinished!

    cheers
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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    OK Matin- I'll keep details & post a DIY when I have it all figured out! I'm going to start doing test panels using my old ashtray as a guinea pig.

    Initally Sadolin Jacobean Walnut is what I am going to test with building up in fine spray coats.
    1987 w124 200 E36 AMG Project car - ongoing
    1990 w124 300E-24 Fully Restored
    1992 w124 500E Rolling Restoration - ongoing
    1995 w202 C36 AMG The donor for the w124 E36
    2007 w211 E220CDI Avantgarde Daily Driver

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    I'd love to see what's involved in refinishing wood trim. I'm most interested in the removal of the old finish.
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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen View Post
    I'd love to see what's involved in refinishing wood trim. I'm most interested in the removal of the old finish.
    It's a pretty standard and manual process. Chemical stripper is applied to the urethane (which softens it) and it is carefully scraped off of the veneer. Then the veneer is refinished and new urethane is sprayed over everything.

    Sounds like a "field trip" up to Santa Barbara on the 101 (Madeira) is in the works for you, Glen. Perhaps a long weekend with your wife, and the Silver car You can take some photos and illuminate all of us. Sort of like I did with the Sun Valley transmission shop in the LA area a few years back.


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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    I've tried chemical stripper on an old 190e shifter surround and it didn't really do anything. Sanding was the only way I could remove the finish...
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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen View Post
    I've tried chemical stripper on an old 190e shifter surround and it didn't really do anything. Sanding was the only way I could remove the finish...
    Generally, you need to use a stripper that contains methylene chloride (which is a known carcinogen, and may be illegal in California), or one with mineral spirits. Generally it can take 2 and sometimes up to three applications of the stripper to get all of the polyurethane finish removed. You have to apply it, and let it soak in for a while, before you begin scraping the urethane off of the veneer.

    In my opinion, this is a process that is best left to professionals (Madeira) rather than being done yourself, or giving it to a furniture refinisher. 90% of the work on MB wood I've seen furniture refinishers do is incorrect and can even look horrible. Contrast that with Madeira - I've yet to see a job they've done that looks anything BUT stellar.

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Thanks Gerry. I may or may not refinish my own trim but I like to understand the process.
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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    You have to use an iron to remove the old finish

    https://youtu.be/8DuFkZOOssM

    A lot of vids are available on wood restoration on youtube, however to find the best method/result it is not obvious.
    I recently worked on an ashtray+center console (w124), the result is pretty nice imho, i will post some pics.

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    If you haven't refinished MB interior woods before... I would HIGHLY recommend experimenting on a spare/junk piece of wood first.

    I've never done it myself, but I did enough research to determine it was beyond my capabilities to strip clearcoat, safely refinish the surface of the wood veneer, and then re-clearcoat.


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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Quote Originally Posted by gsxr View Post
    If you haven't refinished MB interior woods before... I would HIGHLY recommend experimenting on a spare/junk piece of wood first.

    I've never done it myself, but I did enough research to determine it was beyond my capabilities to strip clearcoat, safely refinish the surface of the wood veneer, and then re-clearcoat.

    I will second that recommendation. Having many spare wood parts to experiment with, can tell you that sanding off the clear coat is a no-go. Were not dealing with solid burl wood, its a very thin layer of burl over a compression composite wood, regardless of which grit you use (I used 2000) if you screw up a hair, you sand right through the thin burl layer. Did not try a chemical stripper, but that would seem to be the logical route to safely remove the clear coat.

    FWIW, when I replaced my center console wood, I ordered from Mercedes and must of went through 6-7 of them before I finally settled on one that still had some imperfections in it (fish eyes in the clear coat), basically got fed up with trying to get one that was finished properly. After that fiasco, I wouldn't recommend buying a new piece.
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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    If you're in the UK, and don't feel confident to carry out the many DIY suggestions posted here, I understand that PK Veneering in Ipswich do a pretty good refinishing job. Tel: 01270 253460. Email: pkveneering@hotmail.co.uk
    http://www.pkveneering.co.uk/classic...uffolk/ipswich

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    I could use Madeira of course & maybe I will. (Thanks for the UK link also Stephen!) But for now all wood items I have (Mix of replacement used & original parts) are totally AOK except for the wood console at the gear shifter. Exactly as pictured below-

    IMG_3983.JPG


    The wood Veneer itself is in top condition – only the lacquer has faded and cracked at the top edge. So I am dealing with sanding off the lacquer and re-finishing only (Not Veneer work). If it were in tatters like some other w124's wood I see then for sure it would be off to a specialist. I am going to the salvage yard this Saturday to pick up some more w124 Burlwood trim. Purely for experimental purposes (So no 500E’s are harmed in the process!) My plan is to try sanding & chemical stripping for example to see which is best first. Then with masking tape try different stains on a few areas to dial in the colour – mixing as required & keeping a note of the ‘recipe’to match MB Burlwood.


    Then on to the real job only after I have established that I can attain a high finish which I am reasonably confident I can. Hell if it doesn’t work out only a couple of scrap w124 timbers will be in the bin! No big deal. This is the starting point I have selected- could be too red but I'll try first & go from there. The only way to learn in this instance me thinks - get stuck in!


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    1987 w124 200 E36 AMG Project car - ongoing
    1990 w124 300E-24 Fully Restored
    1992 w124 500E Rolling Restoration - ongoing
    1995 w202 C36 AMG The donor for the w124 E36
    2007 w211 E220CDI Avantgarde Daily Driver

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    I've done this with my '87 300TDT with Zebrano. I used chemical stripper - many coats - that factory finish is THICK!
    Once I got down to the wood, it seemed to be unstained. In other words, the color is in the finish, not a stain on the wood.
    I experimented with various stain combos until i got one that was reasonably close to the original. Then I coated it with
    many coats of urethane. Spray, sand, repeat, etc. The result is a color that is similar to the factory original but with more
    of a grain showing because the finish is much thinner. I like the result and i don't think most people would notice the difference.
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  37. #21
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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Yes as I stated earlier I am experimenting on burlwood I will be removing from a scrap w124. If it does not turn out well I will be sending my 500E’s console to Madera - period.

    But – I enjoy a challenge so why not at least try eh? I have gleaned great info on the MB wood by research – which I will share in a DIY if all goes to plan.

    I believe MB used a 2k Epoxy clear to cover W124 wood trim. A very tough durable product which is very thick as we all know. Therefore chemical stripping will likely be ineffective. Several You tube videos show heat as a method of removal which I will try first on my scrap experiment timbers-





    It appears the biggest challenge will be getting the old lacquer off so I will try several methods. I will also be trying various different stains + combinations of 2K clearcoats to attain the desired finish.


    Whatever I learn from this, good bad or indifferent I will post here in due course. Could be a couple weeks - but hopefully sooner. Wish me luck!
    1987 w124 200 E36 AMG Project car - ongoing
    1990 w124 300E-24 Fully Restored
    1992 w124 500E Rolling Restoration - ongoing
    1995 w202 C36 AMG The donor for the w124 E36
    2007 w211 E220CDI Avantgarde Daily Driver

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Sorry for hijacking…. my own thread but does anyone know how the W124 dash wood strips are removed? Like the one on the dashboard Airbag pad. I hope they are clipped in so I pry them off from the front.



    Or are the wood trims bolted through the dash necessitating access to the rear of the dash board?


    I am planning ahead so I can get the Burlwood off all 4x doorcards and from the dashboard of a scrap w124 tomorrow morning.

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Quote Originally Posted by JC220 View Post
    Or are the wood trims bolted through the dash necessitating access to the rear of the dash board?
    IIRC, yes, the dash woods are bolted on the same as the door wood strips... need to access the nuts from the rear side.

    The airbag wood is different since the airbags are in the way. I believe there is 1 or 2 nuts on either end, then the wood slides sideways a bit and pops out? Never done this myself so I'm not 100% certain.


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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Here you go - I found this picture on the web the other day when looking for the same information. Like gsxr stated 2 small bolts need to be undone and then slide it sideway. No need to remove airbag.
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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Quote Originally Posted by darek_u View Post
    Here you go - I found this picture on the web the other day when looking for the same information. Like gsxr stated 2 small bolts need to be undone and then slide it sideway. No need to remove airbag.
    Cool thanks - I might just take the whole dash out of the car & home with me if the price is right! Since it appears I have to take most of it apart anyway to get at the bolts.
    1987 w124 200 E36 AMG Project car - ongoing
    1990 w124 300E-24 Fully Restored
    1992 w124 500E Rolling Restoration - ongoing
    1995 w202 C36 AMG The donor for the w124 E36
    2007 w211 E220CDI Avantgarde Daily Driver

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    OK so I picked up some ‘gold’ this morning. I have 500E dark blue leather seats + door cards in perfect condition for my W124 E36 project car – but I needed Burlwood dash console trim to match in that car too since the original stuff is Zebrano. Anyway -among that small parts bundle is extra w124 Burlwood trim to experiment on – (Re DIY Refinishing)

    IMG_4051.JPG

    One piece was ideal for figuring out how to remove the thick old cracked lacquer since some A Hole had already broke it clean in 2 & thrown it in the footwell Anyway – Rick is quite correct the Burl Veneer is SUPER thin. Around 0.5mm I think so I was very worried that sanding is not an option since there is such a fine line to tread between restoring VS thrashing the 500's wood.

    So this is how I removed the old lacquer – very fast & easily. Use a heat gun set at MAX 240c. Gently heat a corner & slide thin blunt scraper in. Now keep working the scraper in to gently tease the now softened lacquer off the veneer. This works awesome – with zero harm to the beautiful Burl Veneer below.

    IMG_4053.JPG IMG_4057.JPG

    This was the most important step to overcome – so now it seems very do-able to stain & clear the wood again. I have work to do! I will be testing several methods / combinations of stain to find the easiest but best finish possible - keeping a good factory 'Control' item to compare to.
    1987 w124 200 E36 AMG Project car - ongoing
    1990 w124 300E-24 Fully Restored
    1992 w124 500E Rolling Restoration - ongoing
    1995 w202 C36 AMG The donor for the w124 E36
    2007 w211 E220CDI Avantgarde Daily Driver

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Well progress on this test was very swift as it turned out! I went to a local hardware store & bought a variety of wood stains. Then by testing on a full stripped scrap wood trim I have a perfect match to a good piece of original wood in my 500E. (There will never be a PERFECT match since wood is a natural product!)

    IMG_4065.JPG

    I actually am enjoying this work I must say

    So that’s it for this thread until I get my wood refinishing all completed, re-installed and create a DIY for folks who might want to tackle their own! At this point & time I intend to stain the wood then spray several coats of 2K UV resistant Yacht Varnish.
    1987 w124 200 E36 AMG Project car - ongoing
    1990 w124 300E-24 Fully Restored
    1992 w124 500E Rolling Restoration - ongoing
    1995 w202 C36 AMG The donor for the w124 E36
    2007 w211 E220CDI Avantgarde Daily Driver

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Be careful with stain. In the vid, at 4'25", the guy put only clear water on the wood. The result is nice, a wet touch give to the wood its original look. I would recommend you to try one part without stain.

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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Quote Originally Posted by mercepor View Post
    Be careful with stain. In the vid, at 4'25", the guy put only clear water on the wood. The result is nice, a wet touch give to the wood its original look. I would recommend you to try one part without stain.
    Yes I did try only clear first & it was too light. The thick epoxy has a tint in it also as can be seen in the pics above. Pro wood restorers all use wood stain then clear after and in the case of my car's wood it definitely needs quite a dark stain first.

    The wood is also more noticeable through the thinner layer of clear too - it looks much much nicer IMO
    1987 w124 200 E36 AMG Project car - ongoing
    1990 w124 300E-24 Fully Restored
    1992 w124 500E Rolling Restoration - ongoing
    1995 w202 C36 AMG The donor for the w124 E36
    2007 w211 E220CDI Avantgarde Daily Driver

  53. #30
    E500E Guru TerryA's Avatar
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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Way to go Joe,

    This is painstaking work and much patience is required. My wife sold antiques for 30 years and I have stripped and refinished just about everything one could imagine. Most pieces looked great but some things never did.

    Original factory finishes and processes are usually closely guarded secrets. The heat gun appears to be the answer for removing the old finish from the MB woods. Refinishing the wood is fairly easy once you find the right color match.
    To me the problem I see would be matching the factory finish's durability.

    Seeing how thick the original finish is makes me think MB had a high pressure laminating process of some kind in order to keep the panels flat. As much wood that MB processes it has to be done on an assembly line.

    DURABILITY of the new finishes would be my only concern.

    My hats off to Joe for giving it a go.

    Just my $0.02 cents
    Terry

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  55. #31
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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryA View Post
    Way to go Joe,

    This is painstaking work and much patience is required. My wife sold antiques for 30 years and I have stripped and refinished just about everything one could imagine. Most pieces looked great but some things never did.

    Original factory finishes and processes are usually closely guarded secrets. The heat gun appears to be the answer for removing the old finish from the MB woods. Refinishing the wood is fairly easy once you find the right color match.
    To me the problem I see would be matching the factory finish's durability.

    Seeing how thick the original finish is makes me think MB had a high pressure laminating process of some kind in order to keep the panels flat. As much wood that MB processes it has to be done on an assembly line.

    DURABILITY of the new finishes would be my only concern.

    My hats off to Joe for giving it a go.

    Just my $0.02 cents
    Thanks Terry,

    Very fair point regarding durability of the finish. The OE MB finish is VERY thick & tough but unfortunately it does then crack & degrade as our cars age making the wood look utterly pants!

    New MB woods are NLA so there is no choice to replace with new MB – only to refinish what we have in our cars or can get from parts cars.

    I have been speaking to a couple of UK wood re-finishers (Before I almost chickened out doing my own wood!) and they all said they stain the wood then use a Urethane varnish in layers. All products I have carefully selected are high in UV protection and very durable – designed for outdoor woods actually – so they are tough. Some varnishes do not have UV protection so this for sure is something to look out for.

    The flip side to this is – on re-doing the work now the worst parts is getting that mega tough MB coating off without damaging the veneer. In the future it will be much easier to strip the varnish back if needed and / or flat back & re-coat as required. But my 500E is a garage queen now I must admit so the wood will look great for years I think. I am making rapid progress today also
    1987 w124 200 E36 AMG Project car - ongoing
    1990 w124 300E-24 Fully Restored
    1992 w124 500E Rolling Restoration - ongoing
    1995 w202 C36 AMG The donor for the w124 E36
    2007 w211 E220CDI Avantgarde Daily Driver

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  57. #32
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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    As per the attached pictures the heat gun method works wonders. I have all of the cracked trim stripped, sanded + wiped with grease remover ready to start the re-finishing tonight. This will require several stages of coating / sanding (Up to 8 layers of Varnish I anticipate) so to have these done and ready to fit in the 500E again will take a couple of weeks allowing each coat to cure correctly.

    HOWEVER, the margin for error is TINY. See the picture with the aluminium backing. Notice the thickness of the Veneer there? About 0.2mm. Mine has been a success but then it took me 12 hours to strip & sand these few parts properly without going through. I am re-thinking if I should post this as a full DIY now because of the point above..........

    IMG_4076.JPG IMG_4087.JPG IMG_4088.JPG

    Moderators – could you please add / re-finish onto this thread title?
    1987 w124 200 E36 AMG Project car - ongoing
    1990 w124 300E-24 Fully Restored
    1992 w124 500E Rolling Restoration - ongoing
    1995 w202 C36 AMG The donor for the w124 E36
    2007 w211 E220CDI Avantgarde Daily Driver

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  59. #33
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    Re: W124 wood trim types

    Quote Originally Posted by JC220 View Post
    ... Notice the thickness of the Veneer there? About 0.2mm. Mine has been a success but then it took me 12 hours to strip & sand these few parts properly without going through. I am re-thinking if I should post this as a full DIY now because of the point above..........
    At those thicknesses, I suspect MB only had to use a single Walnut and a single Zebrano tree for all 12 years of 124 production! Any thinner and it would have been transparent...


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  61. #34
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    Re: W124 wood trim types / refinish

    A small update on progress – this is a learning curve! I did have serious trouble in getting the varnish to lay down. There were bubbles, open pores & all sorts of crap to contend with. I have never lacquered anything other than base boards before so this is all new to me.

    Wood stained- I used Colron Indian Rosewood

    IMG_4090.JPG

    The terrible initial varnish results – WTF!

    IMG_4112.JPG

    Very gingerly flatted back so as not to go through

    IMG_4113.JPG

    FINALLY – mastering the technique to get varnish to lay like glass. I have a whole new respect for this work – very difficult indeed. 4 coats in and possibly just one more to go

    IMG_4115.JPG
    1987 w124 200 E36 AMG Project car - ongoing
    1990 w124 300E-24 Fully Restored
    1992 w124 500E Rolling Restoration - ongoing
    1995 w202 C36 AMG The donor for the w124 E36
    2007 w211 E220CDI Avantgarde Daily Driver

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