Tuesday, March 30, 2010

C2 Drip Rail Fabrication

Drip rails are located on the car body inside each door opening. They run from the A pillar up along the side of the windshield, along the side of the roof top then down to the top of the B pillar. These are very delicate pieces, susceptible to rust and they are one of the few items that are not mass produced. If you can find a set they will set you back about $600 for a pair. They are only available hand made. This is a picture of our driver side drip rail. It is WAY beyond repair. The passenger side is almost as bad. Both were removed from the car by drilling out the spot welds. Instead of buying new drip rails I decided to fabricate a set instead. From left to right, I had my local HVAC dealer bend up 3 sections of 18 gauge sheet metal 5 feet long. The one you see is a spare. Using the pneumatic shear I trimmed the length of both sides of the sheet metal to match the original. Using a sheet metal shrinker and stretcher I was able to match the contour of the door opening. The curvy length of angle is a test piece I used to understand the capabilities of the shrinker/stretcher tools. Next I used a Pexto bead roller to roll a bead along the full length of the outside of the drip rail. A scrap piece of sheet metal is shown below the Pexto to show a test bead. A pneumatic hole puncher was used to punch holes where we will plug weld the drip rail back onto the car. A completed drip rail is on the far right of the picture.
This is the underside of the newly fabricated drivers side drip rail sitting along side the original drip rail. The new rail has already been test fit on the car and it fits perfectly. The passenger side drip rail is also fabricated and has been test fit as well. The ends will be trimmed once installed.
This is the front side of the same pair of rails. This side has the rolled bead.
This corner was the most complex of all the fabrication. The notches you see on the back side and the relief on the rolled bead at the corner is consistent with the original design. Both of these techniques were done to accommodate the extremely tight turn.
The Pexto was purchased on EBay for $35. It's nearly a century old and worked perfectly. Without this tool the bead would have required a steady hand, a delicate hammer, and a bunch of hours of tap, tap, tap. I am really glad I was able to purchase this tool.
The newly fabricated drip rails will be installed on the car when we get tired of working on the frame. I suspect that will be in a couple months. Thanks for watching.
(Wilson, what do you think?)


  1. I continue to be amazed at the level of detail of this restoration. I would expect nothing less from you. Continue with the updates.

    Please send a picture of the Fatboy. I don't remember it being black.

  2. Will do Jim. Glad you're still watching.

  3. hello
    my name is linda and i restoring a 65 corvette i live in europe and i need also a pair of these drip rails but i orderd some 1 year ago and pay 569 dollar but still there are in back order and i like to paint the car but i need this first can you help me with a pair i will to pay please let me know my email adres thanks

  4. Linda,

    Sorry, I am full time with my own Corvette. I am not surprised the drip rails are on back order as they are a very labor intensive item with little demand. The $569 price is very reasonable. I would continue to work your current avenue. Best of luck!

  5. Hi, in regard to your fabricated drip rails you mention 18 gauge steel, do you recall the two dimensions of the right angle bend and the bead diameter?Good luck with the build and glad you went back to the hi res. pics.Brian,Perth Australia.

  6. Brin,

    The drip rails were hand fit using the contours of the old drip rails and the window portion of the bird cage. There were no dimensions taken, just hand fit.

    When I found out that Google had reduced the resolution of the pictures I put it back to high resolution. Thanks for confirming the high resolution pictures are helpful.

    Thanks for the comments.