Sunday, February 21, 2010

Restoring the A Pillar Fiberglass

Now that the left front A pillar is fully repaired it's time to restore the fiberglass. In 1963 Chevrolet engineers were not willing to bond the fiberglass body directly to the metal birdcage. Their solution was to rivet fiberglass bonding strips to the birdcage then bond the fiberglass body to these fiberglass bonding strips. In this picture I have riveted two original bonding strips onto the birdcage and added one home made strip, the black one, using bonding agent. These strips create a bed for the body panel. In this side view the two pieces of fiberglass you see were originally one piece. These will be repaired with fiberglass.
Bonding agent is black in color and has a toothpaste consistency. It was applied to the top of the bonding strips then the body panel was placed on top of the bonding agent, aligned, tabbed (using rivets), clamped, and allowed to cure over night.
The next day the clamps were removed and rivets were drilled out.
The side panel requires a fiberglass repair. Ideally, fiberglass repairs are performed from both sides, however, there isn't access to the back side of this repair. A backing strip will be required to hold the fiberglass in place.
Bondo was applied on the upper body panel to fill in surface irregularities and to temporarily fill the holes. Because I prefer repairing holes with fiberglass I drilled out most of the Bondo creating a pocket.
Cut up pieces of fiberglass were mixed with resin then used to fill in the holes.
Excess material was removed making a very strong fiberglass repair.
On the side panel I folded over a length of duct tape so there was no sticky side. Using needle nose pliers I pulled the duct tape behind the fiberglass creating a backing strip. The duct tape can be easily removed later because fiberglass doesn't stick to duct tape.
Multiple layers of fiberglass matt were used in this repair. If you look close you can see the duct tape on the backside.
The duct tape was removed and the fiberglass was sanded smooth. The bonding agent, Bondo and fiberglass resin received a final sanding then the area was masked off for paint.
Remember, the green primer only indicates the fiberglass work is complete. These areas will receive additional attention when it's time to color paint the vehicle.

The left front A pillar repair is now complete.


  1. Wow John. Love this worl]k, and I love the way ecah project is posted start to finsh now, all at once. Its kind of like watching a movie, with a happy ending each time. On the section you put on last, that needed duct tape behind it: That section (I dont know) appears like it will need to match perfectly to the door, once the door is closed? If so, how did you align that ? jim

  2. I have lots of reference books and I do a lot of research on the Internet whenever I have a question or a doubt as to how something fits. Surprisingly, Ebay is a great place for information as well. I look at the vehicles that are for sale and pay particular attention to those cars that are advertised as numbers matching or NCRS correct. These ads usually include dozens of close up pictures of various parts of the car. As far as the repair that you’re talking about I am very confident that the contours are correct. Nonetheless, before the car is painted Daytona Blue I’ll put the car together to confirm fit then disassemble.

  3. Yes, dark blue, almost black. I'll use House of Kolor paint and I intend to match the color as bect as possible. That's not to say I won't take some liberties with the paint job though. We will do something custom but suttle.

  4. I have to say "Thanks" I have a November built 63. You guys have helped me solve a ton of problems that I had with my car (body issues). Plus, I have learned a ton just from watching how you are doing many other things.
    After watching you guys build your unit, I am going to give my a try as well.
    Thanks again for all you are doing to help a lot of us out.
    Keep up the good work.

  5. That is excellent feedback. Thanks. This blog started out only as a way for me to keep my friends informed of my progress. It has evolved over the years and I am pleased that others are able to find useful information within. Good luck with your 63 and let us know about your progress. Thanks again.