1971 Chevrolet Corvette - Rust Repairs On A Corvette?

It's True, Corvettes Get Rusty, Too. Here's How To Repair A Common Problem

Bob Wallace Oct 1, 2002 0 Comment(s)
Vemp_0210_04_z 1971_chevrolet_corvette Rusted_pillar 2/11

This is what the passenger-side pillar looked like after the moldings and windshield glass were removed. Essentially the entire right-side pillar, almost from the base of the windshield, must be replaced. The rot on the driver side is confined to the upper corner so the VIN "tag" (where the number is stamped into the pillar and visible through the windshield) can remain intact.

Here's our replacement windshield frame and cowl top assembly, clean and rust-free, with a portion of the T-top support still intact. This clip cost approximately $300 from the local recycled Corvette parts dealer.

The T-top brace, which runs fore and aft from the windshield frame to the rear roof "hoop," must also be accurately trimmed to fit. Nick chose to make his cuts exactly in the center of the mounting screw pattern for the T-tops' front guide plate, which would give him an excellent reference point for uniting the "new" section to the car's structure.

The final cut on the replacement cowl and windshield pillar assembly is on the driver side. The cut line is marked with masking tape (much easier to eyeball than a scribed line), and Nick makes the cut a little on the long side, which leaves some material to grind or trim to achieve a perfect fit. It's a LOT easier to trim off a little excess material than to try to fill up a gap in the two sections.

Nick squares the edges of the cuts on the original body structure with a grinder, then does a trial fitting. He'll check all dimensions (height, width, angles) of the clamped together replacement assembly against the measurements he took on the car before the first cut was made. A perfect fit is the goal, and by taking careful measurements, making exacting cuts and precision final grinding, a perfect fit is achieved.

In addition to the clamps, Nick bolts the T-top anchor bracket/guide plate to the center support, which helps align the replacement (forward) section with the original (rear) section. Then he starts welding the replacement section to the original structure. Tack welds are first, then, after unbolting the anchor bracket/guide plate and rechecking all dimensions yet again, the seam is welded up solid.

With the windshield trim clips and the dash and instrument panel components re-installed, Nick has the windshield professionally fitted, using the proper adhesive/sealer materials. This is not only to prevent leaks-both the windshield and its frame provide support to the entire body structure. This Shark is good to go for another three or four decades.




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