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C-Pillar Replacement


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i'm posting this in response to a query from a previous post i did. 

i've been slowly working my way around this car, literally from bottom to top, front to back and side to side.


the DS c-pillar had rusted at the rear corner of the gasket channel and patching it would have been problematic.  additionally, the outer skin showed signs of earlier hacked bodywork.  Since i happened to have a decent c-pillar around i decided to replace the entire section.   the c-pillar was part of a sunroof i had cut from a car years earlier so i was stuck with working with the section i had.  if i had purpose-cut the c-pillar i would have probably removed it where it joined onto the wheel arch area.  as it turned out, i grafted it at the bottom and i am confident that it is structurally sound.



as 'luck' would have it, my rear parcel shelf had considerable rusty spots and holes so it made it convenient for me to cut an access panel to make my c-pillar extraction cut low, to match my replacement piece. 



i drilled out (and/or used a small die grinder) all the spotwelds between the sheetmetal skin and structural piece.  you will find that the structural piece is spotwelded to the roof in a couple places.  look carefully.  these are best dealt with, with a grinder so as to avoid drilling through the roofskin. 



before i cut anything out, i supported the roof with metal straps welded to the windshield opening and clamped an additional strap in the quarterwindow opening as shown.  don't take chances with movement.



with the inner structural support removed, it is possible to make a clean cut on the outer skin to remove it.  in my case, i only needed to make one discreet cut at the forward edge and i carefully ground down the spotwelds to the roof support at top.  this allowed a clean factory type replacement.  (this work is done from the inside of the cabin). 

there are two sets of spotwelds on the top area: one is the sheetmetal to the support and the other is the support to the roof structural member.  in order to weld the sheetmetal skin to the support at the top, it was clear that i  needed to make these welds from the inside so (as i recall) i drilled through the structural piece, only those spotwelds associated with the skin attachment point. 

(it's not really as complicated as it must sound in print, just visualize that reassembly will have to occur in the reverse order).

make a rough cut at the bottom, leaving enough to trim to size for the section you have on hand.  the replacement structural piece is then fitted as shown.



i welded the structural piece to the car using the original spotweld locations at the roof.  i carefully cut the top-forward edge to match with the original one, and welded up the seam.  the bottom was butt-welded after careful pruning to size and welded to a structural support.  Once in place, i was able to fit the skin to the c-pillar. 


Note, i made several test fitments before welding ANYTHING to make sure it would fit together without distortion.



it is critical to line up the corners as best as possible.  i chose to make my weld seam slightly below the original factory seam because i utilized that corner to make my alignment.


the last two photos show the bottom edge welded in place and a replacement patch to repair a rusty spot on the parcel shelf.




i will note, that i proceeded with this repair because i had built up my confidence over months of practice on this car and the knowledge i gained from cutting up a couple scrap cars for sheetmetal.  i can be done and i am delighted with the results.  i tried to capture my method in the hopes that i may save a car or two.

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