Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Making Blue Interior parts

So my 500SL came with a rare dark blue interior color (color code 132), love it or hate it it's certainly unique. It was only used in the r129 chassis from 1990-1993, and was then discontinued. Since it wasn't that popular an interior color choice to begin with, and original Blue parts are at best 17 years old, finding replacement interior pieces in the correct color is a daunting task to say the least.

One of the little things wrong with the interior of my car was the little pieces that are at the top of the door panel, behind the mirror were falling apart. The original vinyl had delaminated from the backer, due to heat exposure and shrinkage. The driver's side had also had all the clips broken (Some mechanic had done quite a number on the driver's door in general, performing a shoddy power window regulator replacement). That piece would end up in your lap if you shut the door too hard.

Mercedes made the same body style r129 SL up to the 2001 model year, so there are plenty of good, used serviceable parts out there, however very few in the proper color, so after trying aimlessly to find these parts in blue, I opted for the closest match possible, black, figuring it would stand out the least.
In all reality the black pieces didn't look THAT bad and were ok in the interior, but the perfectionist in me was constantly annoyed by them, so I decided that I would seek out a solution, and decided to use a color vinyl dye to try to match the pieces.

After searching around local parts warehouses, I was able to locate VHT Dark Blue satin color dye. The color was close at least according to what the cap looked like, so I figured why not give it a try.

Here are the black pieces before spraying began. I cleaned them by wiping them down with some 70% isopropyl alcohol and allowing them to dry thoroughly.

This is the VHT Vinyl color dye I used
After shaking the can well for a couple minutes I sprayed on the first coat. I immediately realized that this stuff is much thicker and had a much denser pigment than conventional spray paint. Here are the pieces after the first coat was sprayed. 
You can see by the overspray how dense this stuff is. I sprayed a second coat just to ensure complete and even coverage, although the first coat pretty much did the trick. Here they are after the second coat:
The glossyness dissapears as they dry. This stuff has a pretty strong odor, but works really well. I recommend if you do use it, you use it in a well ventilated area. I did this inside my garage with both bay doors open, and you could still smell it several hours later. I allowed the parts to dry for 24 hours, then I installed them back in the car. Here is a picture of the passenger door panel with the piece back in place.
The color match is 90% perfect, only up close can you really see any sort of distinction, but having a seam there, it blends into the interior very well, and especially with the door closed, I don't think many people would realize that this part came from the factory in a different color originally. I'm satisfied.