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How to repair the plastic Mehari body

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There's a lot to tell about repairing a ABS (that's Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene for  friends)  body.

My car had about all the possible damages a Mehari can get, so here is how I did it :

How to....

The ABS Putty

Cut some ABS  (I used the old Mehari nose. It became the perfect donor) into small chips (eg 2mm x 2mm). Put them in a glass jar with a good lid (I used an old marmelade jar). Add some acetone (not too much) and stir it with some non-dissolvable item (I used an old kitchen knife), until the chips are completely dissolved. This will be your putty to use. Be careful, acetone is highly flamable ! Also, close the jar tightly after use since the acetone evaporates quickly. If this would happen, just add some acetone and start stirring again. It can be done over and over again.

You can make the putty very sticky (little acetone) or very liquid (more acetone) as you see on the picture below.

putty.jpg (18467 bytes)

Repair a crack

Start by sanding the broken surface on both sides. It should be very clean !

Theory

What to do What it looks like
(click the pictures to zoom in)

1_1.gif (5489 bytes)

This is how it could look like before you start. Before (21104 bytes)crack.jpg (13839 bytes)
1_2.gif (5216 bytes) Try to bring the broken surface into it's original shape, using tape (aluminium tape is perfect but paper tape works fine too) pbprep.jpg (19788 bytes)
If accesible, glue a piece of ABS on the backside (if reachable) to strengthen . This is the best repair but not always possible
1_3.gif (6076 bytes) Using a hot soldering iron, change the crack into a V-shaped groove. The wider the better. pl2.jpg (7822 bytes)gleuf.jpg (14002 bytes)
1_4.gif (5488 bytes) Pour (liquid) or smear (sticky) putty into the V-shaped groove. Best results when smeared but more sanding afterwards ;-(

If the crack isn't 'stable', only start by filling some centimeters close to the tape.

Let it dry overnight, remove/replace  the tape, fill another region till the whole crack is filled

pbdrop.jpg (11527 bytes)

pl1.jpg (10292 bytes)fillcrk.jpg (18309 bytes)

1_6.gif (5075 bytes)Doing the same thing on the back side (if no ABS has been sticked on) is better Rasp the most protruded, dried putty and sand it afterwards. If not satisfied, add new putty on top of the old and sand again after overnight drying.

 

 

Repair a small hole

This goes much faster. You need some liquid ABS-putty and a piece of ABS. Again, start by sanding the damaged region on both sides. Also the piece of ABS we'll stick on the hole should be sanded. This method works for holes with a size of some centimeters.

Theory What to do What it looks like
2_1.gif (4941 bytes) this is the problem. Somebody installed a larger wiper-switch in the dashboard and had to cut out some ABS pld1.jpg (12378 bytes)
the front side

pld2.jpg (7787 bytes)
back side with donor piece

Using a silk brush (no nylon since it dissolves in the aceton), dab some pure aceton on the backside around the whole till the surface becomes sticky. Do the same with the piece of ABS we're about to glue on it. pld3.jpg (9963 bytes)
2_2.gif (5852 bytes) Fit the donor-piece on the backside and firmly hold it with a pair of pincers, using two wooden blocks to avoid damage. Let it dry for an hour or so pdclamp.jpg (15197 bytes)
2_3.gif (5649 bytes) After having removed the pincers, fill the frontside with liquid ABS-putty. Since the putty will shrink after the acetone evaporates, fill the hole till the putty get's higher then the original surface pdfilled.jpg (14958 bytes)
this is another hole which is just filled with liquid putty.
Let dry overnight
2_4.gif (5745 bytes) Finally, there's just the boring sanding to do. pdsanded.jpg (9606 bytes)

Repair a big hole

Theory What to do What it looks like
3_1.gif (5229 bytes) This is the hole  rearhol.jpg (17806 bytes)
Find yourself a donor piece and make it larger then the actual hole.

Here's doctor Josť cutting out the donor piece for me. Thanks Josť !

The man on the left is Kristof, his Mehari is on the background. Go to the gallery to get a closer look

jose.jpg (27456 bytes)donor.jpg (66400 bytes)
3_2.gif (4785 bytes)3_3.gif (6012 bytes)

(drawings don't show backside supporting pieces)

Cut the hole and the donor piece till  they fit. Glue some ABS pieces on the backside so that they'll support the donor piece holeready.jpg (58296 bytes)holeprep.jpg (72271 bytes)corner2.jpg (43667 bytes)corner1.jpg (44606 bytes)

3_4.gif (6606 bytes)(drawings don't show backside supporting pieces)

For big holes, you can't use the 'put-acetone-on-both-sides-and- glue-it-together-technique', since the acetone evaporates too quickly. I applied putty on the supporting ABS and put the donor piece on it. (By mistake, I cut my donor piece in three so I had some extra work to do).

To fill the remaining space, I used the 'dripping technique' since that putty won't have to support anything. It's just for filling.

Sanding afterwards of course

bighlfld.jpg (18353 bytes)holetoe.jpg (71428 bytes)drip.jpg (26178 bytes)corner3.jpg (45859 bytes)

Fixing bent surfaces

What to do What it looks like
Before whe start repairing dents, here's some food for real Mehari-lovers. Remember I wanted to transform my 2-seater into a 4-seater ? This is a 4-seater inner body I found. It's a '69 model but will be traded for a later model  69_2.JPG (23065 bytes)
How do I know it's a '69 ? It's the only 4-seater model with a 'console' between the front seats. Very rare !!

The same console is only found on 2-seaters.

69_1.JPG (19698 bytes)
Not easy to see but there's another difference between older and younger models : On the older types, the sides (just behind the doors) are completely flat. The younger models have a profile.

New hinges don't fit on old models !

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So I traded it for a younger model. It wasn't as good as the old one since it had been painted AND had been in an accident. Here's the dent under the right door.

I can tell you this : it looks better on a picture then in reality :-<

dent.jpg (17268 bytes)
And this is the perfect left side. perfside.jpg (13378 bytes)
Just support the surface on the backside so you won't bent the damaged surface too far. I used some wood for it.

Then heat the surface carefully with a hot air blower. DON't BURN THE PLASTIC! Just make it hot enough till it can be bent.

heat.jpg (19839 bytes)
And then, just push it gently in the right shape using some wood (it's too hot for your fingers !). Just a little bit at the time : heat & press & heat & press... press.jpg (25111 bytes)
Till you obtain the result you wanted. Here's still some bending to do and a remaining crack to fill but I'm quite happy with the result.

 

(finally, let your wife do the sanding :-))

exdent.jpg (14518 bytes)annick.jpg (53953 bytes)