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Q. I'd like to get your advice on repairing a couple of areas on the cab of a '63 Chevy pickup. Unfortunately, there are no replacement panels available. The main section I'm concerned with is the A-pillar where it curves around the windshield, and the upper door frame adjacent to the A-pillar, which ties into the roof and rain gutters. I guess I'm looking at it as one big mess instead of breaking it down into smaller workable sections. I'm not sure about how to go about separating it into smaller sections, and I hope you can point me in the right direction. I've included some pictures; most of them are of the driver side, which has the most damage.
Thank you for taking the time to help me; I really appreciate it!
Via the Internet from Hawaii
This is a badly rusted A-pillar on a '63 Chevrolet pickup. Read below to learn Ron's strat
A. Well, that truck has a lot of rust, but it can all be repaired. The key tools to use are a bending brake, and a shrinker and stretcher. While all the damaged panels could be made from flat stock that is welded together on the corners, you'll get a better job (and have more control over shaping each piece accurately) if you use the brake to form flanges on strips of metal, then shrink and stretch the flanges to contour the parts into the shapes you'll need.
I've drawn yellow dotted lines on one of your photos, showing where I would place the seams. I would make the jamb area of the upper A-pillar from several pieces. The largest piece would be a Z shape (one flange bent up, and one flange bent down). Each flange would be about a 1/2-inch wide, and the space between the flanges would match the original panel (about 23/4 inches, I'd say from your picture). One flange would be shrunk to match the contour needed where the rubber weatherstrip covers it, and the other flange would be stretched to create the contour needed in the rounded corner. Most of the metal needed at the rear edge of the windshield could be bent on a brake, and a small triangular piece would need to be added in the area I've colored red.
This same strategy can be used for virtually all the areas you sent me pictures of-some areas will require more pieces and some less.
I hope this approach makes sense; if not, let me know, and I can go into more detail.
Q. I am a novice with auto body soldering. It seems only natural that you would be well versed in this, as well as metal shaping, so I hope you can answer my question.
I have a lot of acid core solder. Can this type of solder be used for auto body work? It is my understanding that this type of solder is used in cases where the metal is not in the best of condition. Could the acid core material be removed by melting the solder, making the remaining solid material usable for auto body "leading?"
Thank you in advance!
Via the Internet
A. All the acid-core solder I've seen is 50 percent lead and 50 percent tin. Most auto body solder is 70 percent lead and 30 percent tin. The 70-30 solder melts at a lower temperature, and has a considerably larger window of time in the plastic range between molten and solid. While 50-50 solder can work, that's not really the application it's designed for, since manipulating the semi-softened lead with a paddle is probably the most important part of the job, and certainly the part you'd like to have the best control over!
I've watched many different craftsmen do work with solder on all sorts of trucks and cars, and there are a lot of different techniques I've witnessed that give good results. Before applying solder, the areas being worked need to be cleaned exceedingly well, and "tinned" or coated with a light film of solder. One of the guys I watched used acid core 50-50 solder to tin the metal, and he had very good results using this technique.
It is much more common to use a product like "tinning butter," or other special tinning solutions for this process, but I'm just reminding our readers that there is more than one way to "skin a cat."