Another way to strip and refinish interior plastic
After reading a number of postings on how to remove the bad paint on the SLK glovebox and dashboard, I tried a different method. I had the same problem on a 2002 BMW C1 motorcycle (the one with the seatbelts, roof and crash cage) where the surface of the dash turned sticky. I removed the BMW plastic dashboard and sprayed it with a pressure washer.
So, today I did the same with the glove box, since removing it is the easiest.
For those who don't know how, open the glove box, pop out the clip that holds the fabric brace on one side and the pneumatic brace on the other. Unscrew the four phillips head screws on the bottom and the glove box comes out. Remove the two screws holding the glove box latch and set it aside for painting. Then remove the screws holding the inside box to the outer plastic, slightly pressing upward to remove the top. Jiggle it if it is stuck.
Place the cover so it won't blow around when the water pressure hits it, and slowly wash off the paint. Note... do not accidentally pressure wash your skin, it will peel it off and cause serious problems (I did it once when I first got the pressure washer, took weeks to heal as it takes off lower layers of skin).
As you will see in the photos, I did not clean it down to bare plastic because it takes too long and uses up too much water. Instead, when the thick stuff was gone, I dried it in the sun and then used paint store thinner (no brand, I got it in bulk from an automobile paint store, but it seems to be normal thinner). It was a very quick wipe, using hardly any thinner. This took all the rest of the red off.
Then I sprayed it with Plastic Primer that the same paint store sold me. Ten minutes later I sprayed it with black satin enamel. I did this so that the base would be black. If I was going to use paint as the final solution, I would have painted it with a two-part epoxy. Instead I just put a quick coat of black on so that if anything were to show through it would be black, not reddish.
I also painted the glove box latch since that would not get a leather cover (my skills are insufficient). BTW, if anyone can tell me how to remove the chrome key tumbler mechanism from the plastic latch, I would appreciate it. I did all sorts of google searched, but no joy. Finally taped it to keep the paint off it. But back to the story...
However, as the 7 to 11 series of photos show, I decided to try something different. Years ago, the Xena Warrior Princess film company in Auckland closed shop and held a 3-day auction. I went to buy a rack of leather, but by that time (the end of the 3rd day) there were very few people left, and the auctioneer was tired and decided to auction the whole room instead of rack by rack (there were at least thirty racks of leather plus work tables, a leather sewing machine, a 300 kg 19th century mechanical riveter and other stuff). For what I had budgeted for my one rack, I got a lifetime supply of leather and tools. As a result, we have leather everywhere, including in a 1982 Mercedes G-wagon that is a 400,000 mile farm-truck that looks very rough on the outside, but very cool on the inside. We did the seats in 1/4" thick saddle leather since we are hard on them (tossing saddles on saddle leather seems to hold up), but then did the upper side panels in what looks like fancy Italian handbag leather - absurdly posh, but it does the job.
For the SLK, I have about 12 skins of the finest Italian book leather in a red burgundy colour, a complimentary colour to the seats and side panels.
I'm not a great leatherworker, but I thought I would give it a try. Except for stitching around the latch, the whole job was done using ADOS spray contact cement. Unlike the brush on, the spray allows adjustment for a few minutes.
Lay the glove box cover on the backside of the leather and use it as a template. Then allow a generous amount of room so the leather can be glued to the glove box after the cover is screwed back on. Unfortunately, except for the bottom, the precision attachment of box to cover does not allow for leather in between, but you can tuck the bottom in between.
The tough part is actually joining the leather. Contact cement is very demanding. Work fast, don't screw up. I had to start with the rectangle around the glove-box latch and work outward. After affixing the top, tape off the parts of the glove box that you don't want glue overspray and spray both the exposed leather that will fold over the edges and the glove box host. You can fold over the edges to get a more professional result. Trail fit everything, then spray, wait 120 seconds and glue. Leather stretches, pull hard to get a good fit.
It worked well, although the latch may need a bit of adjusting.
But it is good enough that when the summer is over, I will take the rest of the dash apart, strip, prep and paint, but then find a proper upholsterer to do the gluing (and probably have them redo my work on the glove box so it looks professional).
The final picture does not do it justice (No 9 is a more accurate rendering). It does look good, and looks a whole lot better than it did before (unfortunately, I did not think to take photos until I had begun the stripping.
Bottom line... the only new message is try a pressure washer to remove the old finish. It works, if you have the pressure washer it is free, and it is non-toxic and not messy.