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-   -   e39 540i Body Shell Project (http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=664590)

EmpScorpion 12-17-2012 02:26 PM

e39 540i Body Shell Project
 
34 Attachment(s)
Hello,

I'm in the middle of replacing the passenger side shell on my e39. I have a parts car shell, and have been drilling out the spot welds. I'm at a point in the project where I could use some advice. (Do's, dont's, problems that I may encounter, etc.) Not sure exactley how to proceed from this point to get to the shell that I need. I need to replace the door jams, (from just in front of the passenger door to the tail lights. The parts piece that I have has plenty of excess material. Has anyone ever done this kind of work before? I would really appreciate any advice and knowledge about this project. I have attatched some photos.

Thanks!

Noah


Added on 1-6-13

Ok, as I'm getting more into this project, things are starting to make sense. I have found how the skin has been seamed to the car. I have removed a kind of putty sealant, which was covering the seams.

Question - Will the skin seperate without diffuculty once the spot drills and putty sealant has been removed from the seams?

EmpScorpion 12-18-2012 01:30 PM

How do I get to the spot welds that I can't see? I need to remove the excess material, to get to what I need to replace. Major project, overwhelmed.

ItsTweek 12-18-2012 01:46 PM

nice!

EmpScorpion 12-18-2012 04:37 PM

I want to save the car. It has 100k miles and is mechanically sound. I've had to replace the entire front suspension, motor mount, and the positive battery cable. (The HPS airbag deployed) :dunno:

EmpScorpion 01-06-2013 10:34 PM

:)

fortunateson 01-07-2013 11:27 AM

That putty stuffis called "seam sealer" and must be re-applied after welding. You should really brace the original body tub up/down, sideways, and criss-cross so as not to lose original alignment of body. If you are good at oxy/ac welding you could weld the entire replacement piece onto the original after matching up the cut lines. Finish off with proper metal finishing process.

If you are going to just cut out spot welds and replace that is probably the better route especially if you are going to mig it all together. Take copious measurements off original tub and go at it. I would probably start at the "A" pillar then move onto the quarter panel. A bit of a job but can be done. After cutting out the spot welds you may have to do some prying to get the panels to separate. Good luck!

EmpScorpion 01-07-2013 10:01 PM

Thanks very much Fortunate Son! I have some help with the welding, and we are going with mig wire feed. The more I get into this project, the more things seem to be falling into place. I have the Bentley shop manuals for the E39, but it doesn't get into this type of work at all. Thanks again, as I needed to hear some feedback that it CAN be done! I'll post more pics as the project moves on.

:thumbup:

TemporarySanity 01-08-2013 07:55 PM

You are undertaking a project of proportions that the majority of us wouldn't dream of! Most of us would have started parting out the vehicle and bought another one. I commend your perseverance and wish you luck on your endeavor.

EmpScorpion 01-09-2013 01:44 PM

Thank You! The car has been sitting for a couple of years. I slid off a road in the Sierras after hitting some black ice. Thanks to BM Tech in Rancho Cordova, used parts have been plentiful, and not very expensive. I bought a couple of 17" style 19's from ECS Tuning, which saved a lot of money. I've decided it was time to start this project, as I LOVE this car. I had a 79 320i and a 71 2002 when I was in my twenties, and have been in love with BMW's ever since. I want the satisfaction of being able to put her back on the road, and put that scary crash behind me! It's a project of love!

fortunateson 01-11-2013 11:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by EmpScorpion (Post 7301569)
Thank You! The car has been sitting for a couple of years. I slid off a road in the Sierras after hitting some black ice. Thanks to BM Tech in Rancho Cordova, used parts have been plentiful, and not very expensive. I bought a couple of 17" style 19's from ECS Tuning, which saved a lot of money. I've decided it was time to start this project, as I LOVE this car. I had a 79 320i and a 71 2002 when I was in my twenties, and have been in love with BMW's ever since. I want the satisfaction of being able to put her back on the road, and put that scary crash behind me! It's a project of love!

Hi again. I was just looking at your photos for the second time and it occurred to me to ask you what is the damage to your car. It looks like the "a" pillar and the rocker panel. Is there more (eg "b' pillar, etc.)? If it is only the "a" pillar why are you messing with the trunk area? Replace what needs to be replaced but don't go crazy and make more work. By the way, if there are a couple of small dents don't replace the entire panel. Once things are basically done take it to a body shop where they will have a cool little tool (name varies by brand). Basically they well little studs to the dent and then carefully pull the dent out, cut off the stud, and grind smooth. No stupid holes to fill afterwards. Let us know the progress, we're interested.

ADDED: If the "b" pillar isn't too bad I would definately get a body shop to pull/push it out with a "Porta Power" rather than cutting all that material out and trying to replace it. It can be done but it is a lot of work that may not be really required. Shops that do this kind of work do it smartly as well as correctly. I just don't want to see you get over your head and go to far and not being able to go back. Best of luck whicheer way you choose!

EmpScorpion 01-13-2013 03:15 PM

5 Attachment(s)
Thanks again Fortunate Son! I've attatched a few more pics. The rocker panel took the brunt of the impact. The B pillar (without a measurement) seems to be approx 1/4 to 3/8's pushed back. That is just by eyeball of how much the passenger rear door gap overlaps the door well. From these pictures, do you think that these dents can be pulled, or is it way too far gone for that kind of repair? I have started pulling parts out of the car, (backseat, passenger seat, trunk lid, passenger tail light, sunroof, headliner, ABC pillar covers,) and have been bag n tagging things for an easier reassembly. This site and the Bentley have been a huge help with removing things. I have more pics, or can take specific pics of the car if needed. I appreciate any help with this project! :)

Kingshanker 01-14-2013 07:56 AM

Where do you plan on making the cuts? From what I can tell from the pictures you should only need part of the A & B pillars and the full rocker panel. Did the rocker damage make it to the inner floor metal? This is a big project to be done in a garage, especially if you have never done anything like it before. A port-a-power and BFH will help you greatly!

sidneyj 01-14-2013 11:20 AM

A

fortunateson 01-14-2013 11:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by EmpScorpion (Post 7310749)
Thanks again Fortunate Son! I've attatched a few more pics. The rocker panel took the brunt of the impact. The B pillar (without a measurement) seems to be approx 1/4 to 3/8's pushed back. That is just by eyeball of how much the passenger rear door gap overlaps the door well. From these pictures, do you think that these dents can be pulled, or is it way too far gone for that kind of repair? I have started pulling parts out of the car, (backseat, passenger seat, trunk lid, passenger tail light, sunroof, headliner, ABC pillar covers,) and have been bag n tagging things for an easier reassembly. This site and the Bentley have been a huge help with removing things. I have more pics, or can take specific pics of the car if needed. I appreciate any help with this project! :)

Is the 3rd pic the 1/4 panel or what? I'd like to see a full view of the side and then none of the "a" pillar back to "b" pillar and yet anothe rone from "b" pillar back to rear bumper in order to get an overall view with details. I would use a porta power as much as possible and only replacewhat is truly beyond hope if you want the best shot at a 100% job. that beingsaid, if you have the skill, time, and patience you canreinforce the snot out of the cain and remove and replace everything.

EmpScorpion 01-14-2013 03:49 PM

17 Attachment(s)
The passenger floorboard has a small ripple, not very big at all. The skin behind the rear passenger door doesn't look damaged. With the skin being one piece, I was thinking that the whole passenger side would have to be replaced. I was going to follow a diagram I found on the net, (see attatched) and seperate near the tail light. The outer skin goes about an inch under the car, and about a 1/2 inch in the wheel well. The roof seems more tricky to find where the outer skin seperates from the roof panel and the side sheet metal. If it is possible for a body shop to repair this, and the cost wouldn't be too steep, then that would be great. I wouldn't mind paying a couple grand to have this fixed professionally. If the cost was more than that, I do have the time and parts to fix it on my own. (With help from my Bimmerfest friends!) I'm a machinist, not a mechanic, and this project has been an educational experience. I am having fun with this, so I wouldn't mind DIY if it is possible. :)

Jimmys 530i 01-14-2013 08:05 PM

Why not section in the rocker the the a pillar? The quarter does not look like it is messed up bad at all. Make sure to get the car pulled properly before you start cutting parts off.

fortunateson 01-15-2013 02:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by EmpScorpion (Post 7313228)
The passenger floorboard has a small ripple, not very big at all. The skin behind the rear passenger door doesn't look damaged. With the skin being one piece, I was thinking that the whole passenger side would have to be replaced. I was going to follow a diagram I found on the net, (see attatched) and seperate near the tail light. The outer skin goes about an inch under the car, and about a 1/2 inch in the wheel well. The roof seems more tricky to find where the outer skin seperates from the roof panel and the side sheet metal. If it is possible for a body shop to repair this, and the cost wouldn't be too steep, then that would be great. I wouldn't mind paying a couple grand to have this fixed professionally. If the cost was more than that, I do have the time and parts to fix it on my own. (With help from my Bimmerfest friends!) I'm a machinist, not a mechanic, and this project has been an educational experience. I am having fun with this, so I wouldn't mind DIY if it is possible. :)

A lot of times when you pull/push surounding imperfections will almost disappear due to the reversal of the impact forces. The passenger side floor ripple could be an example. You may get away with the pull/push process for a lot of the damage repair. Then sectioning in a good piece of rocker panel (I would go from near the rear wheel well to the "a" pillar for a nice smooth look with less hassle on welding) should get the bulk done. Looks like a new left fender is needed as well. Re: the sectioning, cleco fasteners, magnets, butt weld clamps will greatly help in maintaining the pieces together as well as the proper gap for butt welding. Try to avoid lap welding if you can. Spray the pieces being welded together with weldable primer so they are protected from corrosion after welding. Either way, seam seal the snot out of the area; you wouldn't want any moisture sneaking in and starting corrosion. Magnets and butt weld clamps can probably be found at Harbour Freight. Paint prep and paint could be $$$ at a shop but I'm sure a machinist could learn how to do that NO problem! I need up-date pics as I've become addicted to this thread!!!!!

EmpScorpion 01-15-2013 02:51 PM

10 Attachment(s)
Yes, the rear quarter panel looks ok. I think I'm going to see how far I can get with disassemble of the parts piece. If I can be successful with that, then I will start on disassemble of the car. If it is too difficult, then I will scrap the parts piece, and go with a professional body shop.


Thanks Fortunate Son, this is a wealth of information! There is a Harbor Freight about ten minutes away. Do you think I should get as far along with the parts piece, as to minimize the labor cost, if I do have to have a professional complete the project? Maybe a combination of pro and DIY? I've attatched some more pics, as I can't find the seam on the roof panel.

fortunateson 01-15-2013 03:04 PM

I'd try the Pro/DIY path for "fun and profit"! Seriously, this can be a lot of fun, a great learning experience, and a source of pride. Re: the roof joint. I would get one of those 3m stripping discs that look like and an oversize brillo pad and chuck it into the drill and then strip off the paint down to bare metal around where the filler strip fits between the main roof panel and the door jam areas. Do this on you salvage unit. I bet you'll see small indentations indicating spot welds. Voila. The got to be there somewhere, probably burried unde rseam sealer. As an alternative call or visit a body shop that has experience in working on BMW's, especially E39's, and ask them. You may find a sympathetic shop willing to guide you through this and perhaps willing to do the Porta power thing.

EmpScorpion 01-15-2013 03:37 PM

16 Attachment(s)
Fantastic idea! That's the tool and method I will use for finding the seam. Awesome!!! Here are some misc pics of what's been going on with the project since the wreck. I don't have the steering set properly, (alignment) but that's another job for another day. Also I bent the rear suspension, as the wheels wobble, which I noticed when towing the car. Three of the rims were ruined, (style 19's are very soft). The only rim that wasn't damaged was the driver front. I have two new style 19's and tires, along with my spare. (So I know the rims are not bent.) Things that I'll need to address later. I will keep you updated as things progress! Thanks again!!! :thumbup:

fortunateson 01-15-2013 05:59 PM

I really like those rims. I have style 44's which are my favourite but yours are a close 2nd. You just don't see many style 19's around. How is the supply of interior parts down in CA? I may be needing a couple of things if I can't find anything good locally. And whereabouts is Rocklin?

EmpScorpion 01-15-2013 06:42 PM

The 44's are NICE! Rocklin is about 20 minutes north east of Downtown Sacramento. For used parts, I go to BM Tech in Rancho Cordova. (About 15 minutes east of Downtown Sacramento)

http://www.bmtechautoparts.com/

For new parts, ECS Tuning out of Ohio, has the best prices in my opinion.

http://www.ecstuning.com/

Both businesses ship anywhere.

BM Tech has a huge selection of used parts! I hope this helps!

bkgreene39 01-15-2013 07:37 PM

Wow, what a project. :thumbup:

EmpScorpion 01-16-2013 02:36 PM

Thanks BK!

EmpScorpion 01-27-2013 04:52 PM

31 Attachment(s)
I had a professional body guy come out and assess the car. He told me that the torque box is rippled. I was told that to get the car back to perfect, that it would be about 8k for the job. I don't want to put that kind of money back into the car. I'm not sure which way to go from here. Should I part it out, or sell the whole project in one shot? If I part it out, how should I go about doing this? Also, what is it worth? Any suggestions?


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