A-Pillar Restore

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-A-Pillar Restore-

Replace Your Castings A-Pillars

#1. First thing you will need is intact glass. Doesn’t matter if it’s cracked, it just needs to be 100% there and not warped. This will help you reshape the roof (if necessary). It also helps if you have an intact car on hand (explained later).

#2. Now, disassemble the car. I’d recommend stripping the car to bare metal, as it will help you find damage, and will minimize any risk to the repair. You’ll need to inspect the body for damage (other than the obvious). The roof will most likely be warped or stretched. Get the casting at eye level, look at the car at all angles, but focus especially on the back of the car, as you will have to make sure that the window remains square throughout the repair.

#3. Now that you have done a visual survey of the car, test-fit the glass. Go ahead and carefully bend the roof up or down using your fingers or a flathead screwdriver (the screwdriver works real well for me), Use the intact car (or picture of the intact car) and glass as a guide. Continue adjusting the roof until the glass fits squarely and snuggly. If the car was severely smashed, you may find that the glass appears to be “frenched”, i.e. inset. If you have this problem, go to 3b. Otherwise, proceed to 4.

#3b. (For this kind of damage, I highly recommend having an intact car on hand, it will help you in reshaping the roof.) You have some major work ahead of you. If the roof has been flattened and stretched severely, there is a bit more work ahead. You’ll have to take a wooden dowel and “beat” the roof into the proper shape. You will have to recreate the curve which the roof once had. When I do this, I use a soft but firm surface for this procedure- carpeting. It helps form the roof and restore the proper curvatures in the cast. If your roof has cracks in the b-pillars, you may break off the entire roof. 442’s and Mavericks are susceptible to that happening, even without noticeable cracks. Thoroughly examine the car first! It can help to heat the car with a blow dryer, as the metal becomes softer and therefore more pliable. Wear gloves when doing this, as the car metal surface heats up fast!

#4. Now, you have a decent roof. If it is bent off to the side, take a hammer/ mallet of some sort, and tap the rear pillar, until the window is square. This will most likely cause the front part of the roof to bend also- just adjust this with your hands, slowly. Test fit the glass (by assembling the whole car), check your reference car/picture, and if it all matches up, go on to the next step.

#5. Now you’ll need to locate a suitable a-pillar donor (if you don’t have the originals). Look for a casting with similar or very long a pillars. Snip off the pillars, and file it to the proper size. I recommend you set them aside in some sort of container, as they are easy to lose.

#6. Now you are finally getting into the actual repair. Go to a hobby shop, and purchase a small sheet of thin metal. Using your snips, cut a sliver of metal which is 25% longer than your a-pillar, but not as wide as the replacement pillar. You will have to bend it so that it goes onto the underside of the roof at an angle, but comes down at the proper angle. Here’s a picture of my pillar (in place):

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With a bit of trial and error, you’ll be able to shape it properly. Now, take the pillar, bend it into the desired position, and put a drop of superglue to attach the new “secondary pillar.” Do the same for the other pillar, if necessary. These are fragile at this point, so don’t bend the roof.

#7. Here’s where you have some options: If you are doing an enamel restoration, break out the JB Weld, if you are doing the car in spectra-flame, find some liquid filler w/ aluminum powder mixed in, referred to as “liquid metal,” – Take replacement pillar #1- put a drop of super glue on the secondary pillar, and then set the new pillar on top of it. Quickly get it into the right position (don’t get it on your fingers!!!), and let it set for a couple of minutes. Do the same for #2. Take your “JB” Weld or liquid metal and fill in the scars. I also put some “JB” where the secondary pillar meets the roof and fender well. I also slip some in behind the pillar, since the secondary pillar is thinner, you should be able to get it in there without it being noticed. Now you can either wait 24 hrs. for the “JB” to cure, or you can quicken the process by placing the casting in the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes. I’d recommend letting it dry for a few hours first, though, I have put it into the oven right away.

#8. Now, all you have to do is clean up your repair. Smooth out the visible filler, and clean up the “JB” used to strengthen the secondary pillar. Now, some castings are made in such a way that the secondary pillar becomes invasive, to where the glass won’t fit properly. You may be able to file it down, but in some cases, such as the Mighty Maverick, you may have to trim the glass so it doesn’t touch the repair. Here’s the 442, ready for a staff car conversion:

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 #9. Test fit, adjust, clean, prime/polish, and Paint! Your Car, once considered un-repairable, is now done!

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Here’s a picture of my latest save- a Crushed Charger from Joey Bag-o-donuts –

Before:

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After:

a-pillar-5It took several hours of work to reshape the roof and attach the new pillars. It sports a Mini Motors repro hood + reproduction glass. I have some better wheels for it. It still needs some work, but it is turning out nice.

Robert

theredlineboss

 

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