Sunday, December 13, 2009

Repairing a 1963 Corvette B Pillar

I thought I'd show you how I am repairing damage to the drivers side B pillar on our Corvette. I used this process on the passenger side and it turned out tough as nails so I am sticking with it. This first picture is the upper drivers side B pillar and it's about half way through the restoration process. When I cut this out of the car originally it was so deteriorated it came out in two pieces. There was nothing left of the piece we discuss below. Nothing. I cut, trimmed and folded a piece of photo paper until it fit where I wanted the next piece of sheet metal to go.
I used a permanent marker to trace the outline of the paper onto the sheet metal.
After the sheet metal was cut I bent the metal to match the paper folds.
Holes were punched where I wanted to plug weld then I put a series of straight cuts between the holes on the farthest flange and V cuts on the closest flange. These cuts will allow me to contour the item.
Starting at the intersection of the B pillar and the window frame I clamped tight then plug welded each hole.
As I worked from left to right I was able to easily bend the piece because of the straight cuts and V's.
After all the plug welds were made I went back and welded all of the straight cuts and V's.
The welds were ground flush then sandblasted to remove any residue. I'll smooth over the welds with JB Weld to eliminate any areas that might collect moisture.
This piece still needs a lot of work but it's now one step closer to being complete.
Ty T. has been working on the passenger side A pillar. I'll show you those pictures in an upcoming post.


  1. Very nice fabrication John. What kind of metal is the A pillar made out of, and what kind of metal are you using as you fabricate the new sections ? Jim

  2. Thanks for the compliment. I am having fun. The car's birdcage is mild steel. The gage varies depending on the component but I am running into 18 gage more often than not. 22 and 16 gage mild steel is available at Home Depot and Lowe’s but not 18. I bought a 2" x 6' sheet of 18 gage sheet metal at my local HVAC supplier. Galvanized sheets are also available but I don't use them because of the toxic fumes created when welded. The mild steel is really nice to work with; it's forgiving during the forming/bending stage then sets up rigid when it's welded. Thanks for the comments.

  3. The picture you have of a 63 vette with the body somehow taken off the body metal frame is cool. Is that really possible to do in a garage, and if so, is it worth getting all that exposed to see if any other majo rust is lurking? I like the way we could all watch a piece of paper become a A pillar. Jim

  4. How someone was able to remove the entire birdcage (the steel structure of a Corvette) is a mystery to me. The only way I can figure it’s done is to do major cutting to either the body or the floor plan. Either way sounds scary. Our Corvette has been stripped to the bare bones and I am confident we know all the areas that need attention. Glad you liked the fabrication photos. I wasn’t sure there would be any interest so I appreciate the comments.