Straightening an A pillar??

Discussion in 'Resto Corner' started by mr happy, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. mr happy

    mr happy Active Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Guys,
    Alfie had a punch in the nose before i bought him, as a result the nearside door aperture measurements are around 5 to 8mm shorter than the undamaged drivers side. I have a complete new skin for the front but was wondering what my best option is to get the A pillar back to its original position before changing the front clip. Visible damage to the pillar is very minimal. I was thinking portapower very gently with frequent measurements but i'm a little unsure on where to position it as i only want the A pillar to move and not to distort whatever i'm levering against, if that makes any sense? Compared to the healthy side the pillar seems pretty straight and there are no kinks as such and no chassis damage. He is completely stripped to a rolling chassis so i have free access to all areas. Is my best bet to get him on a proper jig although that might clock the dollars up somewhat.
    Anybody have any experience in this kind of repair or any other advice?
    Cheers Mr h
    IMG_2387.jpg IMG_2390.jpg IMG_2577.jpg IMG_2579.jpg IMG_2392.jpg IMG_2393.jpg
     
  2. gazman

    gazman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,762
    Location:
    Perth WA
    We used to use a plank/block of wood to spread the load on the other end of the portapower, if you've removed door, windscreen, front skin etc it should jack back into place pretty easily. Take your time, measure lots, refit door to check gaps, drink beer whilst patting self on back...
     
    old grey likes this.
  3. cbus

    cbus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,663
    Location:
    sunshine coast
    Like Garth said. ;)
    Ensure you are square to what you are pushing off so it doesn't slip.
    8mm is stuff all so should move easily.
    Just go a few mm past where you want to end up then release pressure n measure.
    Get a good picture in your head from measurements where it needs to go.
    Imagine direction of impact and reverse that.
    A small block and some padding to spread the force at point getting worked may prevent damage but you aren't using much force.
     
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  4. mr happy

    mr happy Active Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Exactly the feedback i was hoping for, the beer was a given
    Off with the front skin in the next few days and away we go!
     
  5. mr happy

    mr happy Active Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Brisbane
    As always, thanks for the advice, hopefully a straight forward affair,
    Regards mr h
     
  6. Blunderbus

    Blunderbus Active Member

    Messages:
    542
    Location:
    St Helena, Melbourne .
    Could get away with a bottle jack and pieces of timber.
     
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  7. mr happy

    mr happy Active Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Just so happens i already have a bottle jack, will experiment for suitability, thanks fr the heads up
     
  8. mr happy

    mr happy Active Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Ok guys,
    Removed Alfs front panel, corrosion wise pretty good with only minor surface rust however now i have full access i can see a minor twist in the A pillar. Thinking I'll need to "Untwist" this before using a porta power to push the pillar back to its correct position. I have managed to get hold of a post 76 passenger door with the correct hinge arrangement so do have some thing to help me work from as a datum.
    The A pillar metal is relatively sturdy so i was thinking about fabricating a couple of substantial 2 pronged forks, almost like oversize spanners, and welding the jaws to the front and rear of the A pillar. I can then get a couple of scaff tubes and "untwist" the pillar. Once in position cut off welds and grind back, job done, sounds do-able in theory. I was wondering if anyone has any other suggestions how to remove the twist or can see any major pit falls in my plan?
    Cheers mr h

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  9. cbus

    cbus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,663
    Location:
    sunshine coast
    If you push in direction of reversal of impact it may untwist a bit.
    Also, if you have welding gear ( gas and brazing handy) tack some tabs on front of impact at strongest avail points like a fild or in the depth if the impact fold so that you can pull in those areas as well.
    In reality you can probably push the pillar to a point that door will give good gaps and front panel can be fitted and also line up ok even if some twist remains but it will feel good to have it all as original.
     
  10. David H

    David H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,908
    Location:
    newcastle
    Totally agree. Best to apply force , in reverse, from the direction it entered. Pull gets better outcome! Will make the twist easier & be original.:)
    With that compressed area, front edge of pillar, it changes the shape of the box section & thus the angles of the box section & thus hinge position. As does the rearward march of the pillar.
    You could deal with this combined with the rust removal in that corner. Weaken the front before the twist.
    Cheers
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  11. Grantus

    Grantus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    13,983
    Location:
    Southern ACT
    I’m actually impressed the windscreen was still intact! :eek:


    Get creative with some timber and a jack.....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. cbus

    cbus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,663
    Location:
    sunshine coast
    Damn chippies :p
    Did similar once after planting some moron driving a waste truck who turned into a driveway on left from outside rt lane on a 3 lane freeway.
    Vw jack and a steel frame.
    Shifted RH pillar about 1.5 inches foward. Slapped on a new door. Drove home.
    Kombi fronts are actually quite good.
    Just no crush to reduce speed and don't get hit in centre front panel or windscreen , or at high speed.
    If hit on lower deform panel the first kink can be on roofline behind B pillar.
    Extremely variable tho and stuff all margin for error.

    In this case the pull is only to straighten the front of the pillar.
    Most strength is in the rear due to shape and probably metal thickness.
    Also the front appears to be split along the seam.
    It will be only spot welded at intervals.
    Possible that the front of pillar is affected by rust compromising metal thickness.?
    All roughing into shape is done before welding in repair sections.
    If there is doubt about rust damage it may come back to considering a new pillar??
     
  13. David H

    David H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,908
    Location:
    newcastle
    Agreed but also helps the twist if rust being removed at the same time. Weakened front edge support (rusty bit removed) makes pull out & twist easier. Then replate after rustproofing.
    Cheers
     
  14. cbus

    cbus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,663
    Location:
    sunshine coast
    A general roughing pull is much better if all if a boxed section is in place and you work on the strongest section.
    If folds created in the crash are limiting the pull a few selective smacks or heat can help things go in the right direction.
     
  15. mr happy

    mr happy Active Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Brisbane
    The rust in the pictures maybe looks worse than it actually is. A couple of minutes with a wire brush on a drill and the whole lost would be back to good solid metal. I'm reluctant to cut anything out if i can possibly avoid it. There is literally no corrosion in the lower section of the pillar or any part of it tbh. The pillar is not split, thats just the cut edge of the under screen panel that looks like a split due to my dodgy camera angle! Now that i have some feedback from you fellas I'm thinking of employing the following remedies in this order:
    1. Reverse the twist using the magic spanners i have yet to create.
    2. Portapower / bottle jack and timber to push pillar gently forward.
    3. Weld tabs into low spots in dents and pull (mainly for final asthetics)

    Putting a bit of heat around those dents will hope fully soften things up a little, will a butane torch have enough power to help as i dont have easy access to oxy??
     
    David H likes this.
  16. StevieVW

    StevieVW Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,473
    Location:
    Somerset, Tasmania
    A large immovable object such as a tree and come along with all wheels chocked and or the tail end chained down would be kinder than all the force through the body b pillar area.
     
  17. cbus

    cbus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,663
    Location:
    sunshine coast
    But moving B pillar back will still get door to fit.:D

    Na. Good point.
    A tow strap and blocks of wood will work now with the skin removed.

    Its not much to shift.
    If I was doing it to mine I would probably just pad a block of 4x3x8 and place it against pillar and deliver a couple of hits with a sledge.
    If twisted ,put the unpadded wood into a seam on appropriate side and hit.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
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  18. mr happy

    mr happy Active Member

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Ok guys,
    There's a fair bit of twisted metal around the bottom hinge so in order to ensure i get it looking fairly original I decided to split the a pillar, remove the front section and this will not only give me access to both sides of the damage but will also make removing the twist a whole lot easier. Once the pillar is all squared up i can work on the piece i removed and weld it back in, well thats the theory anyhow. See pics below, will post some more as i progress.
    IMG_2624.JPG IMG_2628.JPG IMG_2618.JPG IMG_2638.jpg
     
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  19. Grantus

    Grantus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    13,983
    Location:
    Southern ACT
    Sounds like a workable theory, and a logical approach to the problem.....:)
     
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  20. David H

    David H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,908
    Location:
    newcastle
    Like the approach:cool:. That's near a 10mm 'in & back' at the lower hinge which accounts for the missing measurement comparative to off side measurement. Sure didn't look like there would be that damage from the outside pictures:(.
    And a nice amount of rust convert/proof can go in there whilst it's open:).
    Keep the measurements going in the process:D.
    Cheers
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
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