DIY: AMG/ Sport Grill Insert Replacement - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 04-05-2013
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Lightbulb DIY: AMG/ Sport Grill Insert Replacement

I am one who frequently does project logs for other forums and projects that I do. More specifically, I build and design custom computers and share my build logs with others who share a similar interest. Those project logs tend to follow a specific format that may be a little different than what most would usually find on an automotive site. Such Project or Build-logs are done as the project moves along with updates coming as the project progresses instead of one big thread after the fact. This allows for input from readers as the project progresses and in some cases suggestions on alternative ways one might be able to progress or move forward with the project. What follows is a DIY I recently started using that format. Since I am more or less making things up as I go, I encourage constructive input and suggestions.

**************************************

PROJECT OVERVIEW
A couple of months ago I bought a 2002 SLK320 with the AMG ‘Appearance’ package on it from a dealer in South Carolina. The car had been wrecked at one point in its life, but having been driven almost 40k additional miles since that incident I felt comfortable that at the price point I was able to get, it would serve me as a fun weekend car that would offer more than enough DIY projects to keep me busy this spring.



Not directly related to the accident (I don’t think), it was missing the lower mesh grill insert from the front bumper. It had obviously been off the car for a while since I found over spray from the bumper repair during the original accident on the retaining clips that had broken off in the bumper.



Upon looking around at various online part sellers and discussing with several dealers, I quickly realized that these grills were made of that rare metal compound known as “GermanCar-oem-ium”. At almost $300 from the dealer and over $200 from almost all online sellers the center grill alone for me to replace was going to more than I was willing to pay for a cosmetic piece at this point.



Being a DIY’er at heart I decided to see what I could find to replace the grill or repair it from other sources. While searching online I came across a sheet of metal mesh that had a pattern nearly identical to that which was used by Mercedes/AMG when designing the original grills. Since my two outer inserts are still intact I was able to use them to identify a comparable /alternative replacement.



While not identical to the OE mesh, it is similar enough that if I replace the middle grill it won’t look to off and my plan down the road is to rebuild the outer ones to match and place them into storage for when I either sell the car, or can find an original replacement off a wrecked/salvage car or at a more reasonable price. The biggest different is the size of the openings and the material is slightly thinner than the original stuff.


THE PLAN
My plan is to cut out a template from regular poster board and from that template, cut a mockup of my final idea out of a sheet of fairly thick picture matting material I purchased at a local hobby store. The sheet (as seen below) is two feet by four feet and cost less than $8, with a 40% off coupon I only paid about $4.80 for the sheet. The poster board I had left over from another project, but buy them regularly at Wal-mart for under $1.



After I get the mockup as I want it, including creating ears and or trim to mount the grills. I will transfer my template/mockup to the metal material and start cutting. I am hoping the whole project, including reworking the left and right side pieces won’t cost me more than about $75. Below is the breakdown of what I have spent so far.

12” x 48” Sheet of Metal Mesh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$25
Bx of Mercedes Bumper Fasteners (12) . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$18
24” x 48” sheet of photo framers mat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $4
Sheet of regular poster board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$1___
Total $48

This may or may not be an exercise in futility. I have no clue how it will work and whether or not it will look right or not. That is the danger of doing a DIY post in this format, I may go from hero to zero in a matter of minutes if I cut something wrong or mess up. I reserve the right to come back and edit the post later and might, if so desired revert things back to a more traditional DIY format. Since I won’t know until I get to that point how well it will actually work or turn out and anything can happen, I encourage you to join me on this little adventure. So as we say elsewhere. Sit back, hang-on and grab refreshment while we get to it.


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#2 Old 04-05-2013
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Wishing success to you

Sounds like you have a good plan.
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#3 Old 04-05-2013
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DIY: AMG/ Sport Grill Insert Replacement
PART I
The first thing I did when I got started was to make a template to work from using a piece of regular white poster board. I measured the opening at approximately 29.5-inchs by about 4.5-inches at its maximum width and height and cut a piece of the poster board.





I then taped that piece to the car using masking tape and using the indentation of the bumper drew the angles or as close to them as I could. I then moved to cut along those lines to get a near exact shape of the opening that I was working with.



When I was cutting the piece I cut it about Ľ-inch to large so I could fold over the edge along the longer straight portions of the template to give myself a lip. As you can see above I squared the edge off before it started to curve so it would be more workable down the road. The final piece however will need this edge along the entire piece to make it more ridged and allow for plenty of mounting points.



Above you can see the piece temporarily fitted into the opening and how the rough shape will look. Tomorrow I will do some fine tuning of this piece before transferring it to the framing mat and making the actual mockup. Below are a couple additional photos I took while I worked.
All-in-all this is a fairly easy DIY, but what is it they say about the best laid plans…..


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#4 Old 04-06-2013
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DIY: AMG/ Sport Grill Insert Replacement

PART II
This morning I got back at it with my budget grill insert for my AMG front bumper, I started where I left off yesterday with the template I made out of poster board and moved to transfer the shape to the framing mat material


After transferring the basic shape to the piece of mat material, I drew by hand around the template the same shape but ˝ inch larger and in six places I drew out little ears (for the lack of a better name) that would serve as mounting points when I finally mount the end product.
Below you can see the three concentric shapes drawn on the outside of the original template and then the final result below that with my six little ears cut out.





Next I scored the line that I drew around the template so that I could bend the mockup along this line.




Once I scored the entire template I was able to bend the edges as you see in the picture below. It is still rather crude at this point but will give me some room to work with moving forward.




Next I went to do another test fit on the car. As you can see in the next couple of pictures the fit is not perfect and required masking tape to hold it in place. However, the fitment is just about how I would want it as far as the depth it sits in the bumper and the fitment at the edges. Not having really seen the car with the original grill insert in place I am more or less working from what I imagine it would look like based on the two pieces that are around the fog lights. In looking at those two pieces the fitment is actually rather crude to begin with so I am going for as close if not better than those two parts for my new piece.










Next time we move to the actual cutting of the grill material. It is about 75% as thick and sturdy as the original, but the pattern while being slightly larger is exactly like what Mercedes uses so it should be a pretty close match. With the exception of one or two anal AMG owners, of which I have yet to meet one in person. No one will be able to tell the difference I hope in the end. But I still have a long way to go so, here’s to hoping all pans out as I envision it.

I don’t think I have mentioned it yet, but my biggest challenge as a fabricator is that my vision almost always out paces my ability, so I can only hope that this is a simpler DIY than others I have undertaken.
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#5 Old 04-06-2013
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DIY: AMG/ Sport Grill Insert Replacement

PART III

Moving straight in to the next step which has me actually cutting the mesh material I am extremely nervous. Despite the mesh material only costing me $25, I am still nervous that I will mess things up and not have enough material to start over. Regardless though, I am fairly confident with the work so far and if I do mess something up I have a good solid foundation to work from. That being said I next transfer my mockup to the piece of aluminum mesh by tracing the outline of the mockup onto the mesh material with a silver sharpie.

Once I get the outline drawn I start cutting. I initially tried to use a set of bolt cutters, but the aluminum was thin enough to use an old set of diagonal cutting pliers.





After I got the overall piece cut, I then laid the original poster board template down and put masking tape around the edges of the template to give me a guide of where I needed to bend the material. This is far from scientific, but it works.





Next I slowly moved around the piece of mesh and bent the material along the edge that I had created with the masking tape. In the end this should give me a nice lip to work with moving forward and allow me to adjust things to make it fit into the cavity in the bumper.



Finally below you can see my first test fit of the mesh material. As you can see I have some trimming to do and you can see something that I highly caution others about. Green Sharpie shows up rather well on a silver car…. Ooops.





The next phase of this mod/ DIY requires a run to the local auto parts store. The original AMG inserts have a round metal piece that runs long the leading edge of the insert were it is bent under. It I search around I could probably find some metal or aluminum round stock that was slit down the middle, and then hunt down some clips like are used to hold them in place. But I am thinking of using plastic door edge trim with adhesive around the entire mesh piece which I do not have.

Tomorrow is another day, so hopefully I can wrap this project up and get my budget AMG grill inserts installed and the car back on the road.
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#6 Old 04-21-2013
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Well after a complete redo I have determined that the material I am using to too flimsy to use as designed. Both my efforts resulted in parts that flex to much at speed and in one case actually fell out (luckily in my own driveway). So back to square one, or in my case a lemonade stand to save to buy a replacement from MB. RATS!!!
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#7 Old 04-21-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by conleyjb View Post
Well after a complete redo I have determined that the material I am using to too flimsy to use as designed. Both my efforts resulted in parts that flex to much at speed and in one case actually fell out (luckily in my own driveway). So back to square one, or in my case a lemonade stand to save to buy a replacement from MB. RATS!!!
Bummer, and it was a great DIY. I'm sure you have done your search for other suppliers of a more robust screen. I don't even have an R170 but enjoyed reading your post.

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#8 Old 04-21-2013
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Have you thought of putting two lots of grille , one on top of the other , to make it stronger ??
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#9 Old 05-09-2013
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This was a GREAT DIY adventure [because every diy is an adventure in and of itself man ] thread. Thank you for the photos and play by plays. I was so hoping it was going to work out!


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#10 Old 06-27-2013
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What a great DIY article you put together. I have to accomplish this same thing on my wife's 320 Sport. She tore it off going down a parking lot apron that was too steep.
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#11 Old 06-27-2013
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#12 Old 09-25-2013
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Replace damaged or lost AMG grill inserts (Solved)

OK, its not exactly a DIY, but I may have found a solution to my missing middle grill. I will snap some photos this weekend and do a separate thread of the install, but Chris with Mina Gallery in California sells an entire set of lower grills for our cars, including the post face-left R170 Sport and SLK32 bumpers.

I ordered a set a week ago and it arrived last night and the quality, at least initial comparison to what is on the car is they are nearly identical and of equal or better quality (read that as thickness) to the original. I think the black powder coat on his may be slightly glossier but that shouldn't matter since I will be replacing all three grills.

Cost? Well it isn't as cheap as my initial DIY, but due to the quality of materials used is as good as the OEM and half the price of just the single center grill and you get all three. $120, plus shipping.

Look for an install thread with photos to follow. I am so happy to finally be able to check this one off my list. Now maybe I can get to my dash project...
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#13 Old 09-25-2013
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Great project. I will be looking out for some sturdier grille mesh because I intend to replace lathe grilles with that material.

Thanks for the inspiration.
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#14 Old 10-17-2013
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I'm still exploring different options on this project and have not given up on finding that perfect OEM match. The grill I bought precut and referenced in my previous post is of good quality, but is a different shape from the OEM AMG grill. I actually never got around to installing this kits fog light grills and am only using the center one...

I had reached out to the company, Mina Gallery in hopes I might be able to buy the material they use in a sheet, but never heard back. In further investigation and more close scrutiny off the car (why I never did this before I do not know), our grills are hexagonal in shape and are about 1/2-inch across and the ones from Mina are a decorative cut flattened mesh with holes slightly larger than 1/4 inch. (see attached sketch of the shape, more or less)

I have wanted to do another project and create a main grill insert out of the same material used for the lowers so am giving this project more in-depth research than I had originally.

At this point I have found a supplier for what appears to be a closer match than the Mina grill to the OEM grill, and I have also found a close match for sheet material close to that used by Mina... thus giving myself two options.

Either try and match original and redo lower center and fabricate new upper, or match the Mina and make a single upper grille to match what I have. Not sure what I want to do, I have ordered samples of each and will report back as to what I end up doing.

Bottom-line, I may have enough material if I am forced to buy a whole 48"x96" sheet to make a few extra sets, or at least a couple of upper grills if I go the Mina style material. Understanding that I would be cutting, bending and making these all by hand with no industrial fabrication equipment. I may be willing to fabricate a few extras for sale, assuming the end product turns out ok.
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File Type: jpg Mesh Shapes.jpg (11.3 KB, 6 views)
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#15 Old 10-17-2013
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#16 Old 10-17-2013
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They look close, but after my first attempt of evening working with thin Aluminum, I am not sure one could get the look, at least I am going for with plastic without a thermal cutter/bender. Give 'em a try they might work, but I would think mounting would be a "bear"...
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#17 Old 11-15-2013
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Next try to figure out where I can get a center console for my 1998 SLK 230 (black). I can only find one for about $1500 which is ridiculous for a piece of plastic. I'm considering building one out of walnut or fiberglass.
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#18 Old 11-22-2013
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I have the uninstalled AMG center grille, I believe the one the OP is trying to recreate. I looked up the part number at an online MB parts dealer, using a 2002 SLK.
The part number comes back as this:
Grille W/SPORT, center

MSRP Core ? Online Price $292.00 $0.00 $233.60

Number 10 in this picture:

Here are some pictures.
Part number


End piece from rear some kind of fiberboard - plastic



Grille from rear.



Grille from front.




Some notes about this grille - it is steel mesh, not aluminum. It has a heavy metal rod completely surrounding the back outline, and some kind of fiberboard "stiffeners" on the end. I would suggest that imitating the OEM would work better than trying aluminum. Hope this helps someone in the future.

Based on MB's pricing, I suspect the metal used is NOT steel, it is Unobtainable.

Correction: I took a much more detailed look at the grille. It is not magnetic, the "clips" are not magnetic, and the screws holding the fiberboard on the ends are screwed directly into the metal rod, something I don't think they would do with steel [the screws are very small]. The part seems to have been "pressed" or formed around a mold, the corner mesh is smashed together at the tight spots. Most likely if you are a wood worker you could make a form to smash mesh on to make the shape as long as you had the dimensions or made a cardboard shape like the OP did. Just use a rubber mallet and power coat after.

Last edited by gringott; 11-22-2013 at 11:46 AM.
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#19 Old 11-22-2013
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Yes, that is the same one I have been looking for and or trying to recreate. The challenge that was the most difficult and forced me to simply go with someone else's work was finding material that matched the pattern of the grill, since I already had fog light grills. I suspect like the poster due to that pattern and the material it is made of, the price is rather high.
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#20 Old 11-28-2013
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Saw this in case anyone's interested !

http://www.ebay.de/itm/Orig-MERCEDES...item3a6dab6f83
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