|Rambler American Restoration
Driver's Side Quarter & Rocker Panels
Part 6 - Rocker Rust -- Finishing Up The Surgery
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August 29, 2003
Today, I took off from work so I could finish cutting the rusted parts of
the driver's side rocker panel off of my car. As you can see below, I'm just
about ready to start putting the car back together. I still need to decide
what I'm going to do with the large rust spot on the inner rocker panel
(it's the big spot near the rear of the door opening). In the
pictures below, it looks pretty bad but it's really not all that deep into the
metal and it's not at all soft but, I'm getting a little ahead of myself...
I started off today by purchasing some sheet steel from (appropriately
named) American Metal Supply Co (http://www.americanmetalsupplyco.com).
The rockers panels are made entirely from 18 gauge steel. The cover and
outer rocker are plain mild steel but the inner rocker is galvanized. I
ended up picking up a left over 2' x 3' piece (they call these pieces
a "drop") from a previous cutting job for $15 (this is their minimum
charge). I was very impressed with their service and everyone I spoke to was
nice to deal with. Their shop was very well organized and kept neat.
After I got back from picking up the metal, it was time to work on the car.
Today's job was to finish removing the rocker cover and cut out the bad
sections of the outer rocker cover. My first attempt at removing the rocker
cover was to try and use my spot weld cutter. To use a spot weld cutter, you
have to be able to put the cutter face straight against the spot weld. As
illustrated in the picture below, the bottom of the rocker cover kicks up
and you can't get the cutter into the correct position.
My second attempt was to use my angle grinder to remove the metal around the
spot welds. This was not only slow going, but it generated a bunch of very
hot sparks and I quit trying after my jeans started smoking. My third
attempt was using my die grinder to do the same thing but I don't have any
coarse bits for it so I didn't try that for very long since it was slower
than the angle grinder.
Finally, I ended up using my cut off tool to grind out the areas around the
spot weld. This wasn't anywhere near as quick as using the spot weld cutter
would have been but it was much faster than the grinder and the
shower of sparks was both smaller and went in the opposite direction of the
ones from the grinder so they mostly landed on the concrete floor instead of
my pants. Before I cut out any spot welds, I cut out as much of the
remaining rocker cover as I could so
I'd have more room for the cut off tool.
After I finished cutting, I spent some time with the grinder and a body
hammer and dolly prepping the flanges on the inner rocker for the new metal.
I noticed that I got a little carried away with the torch last week and I managed to roll
the end of the quarter panel in on itself. I still need to fix that. When I
was done, I was left with what you see below.
Here's a close up of the front of the door opening. The lower left corner of
the outer rocker is pretty rusty and I'll replace it when I install the new
section of outer rocker (this still needs to be fabricated).
Here's the rear of the door opening. You can clearly see how the end of the
quarter panel is rolled in. I was getting too hot and tired to mess with it
today but I'll have to fix this before the new rocker cover goes in. You can
also see the big rust spot I've mentioned a few times before. I'm still
trying to decide if I should cut it out or treat it and weld a
reinforcement over it (more for piece of mind than anything else, it's
You can also see a few notches in the bottom edge of the inner rocker panel.
Those are drain holes for the rocker panel. The original covers also had
stamped areas in it the made the drain much bigger. The new cover does not.
Grafting these areas from the old cover on to the new isn't an option since
one of them was really rusty and the other came off in several sections.
I'll likely end up building some sort of channel into the new cover to do
the same job.
Here's a tip for you: now that you see where the rear drains are (there are
two more under the front door), you should make sure that these are open on
your car. If they're not, you will have rust problems due to water sitting
in them. All of mine were open except for the rearmost one which was plugged
up with mouse nest.
Here are the largest remains of the rocker panel. I'll be putting about
three times this amount of metal back into it when I'm done. I'm replacing
24 inches of rocker cover and 21 inches of outer rocker. It still amazes my
how stiff this part of the car was until I removed the last of the rocker
Up next: Part 7 - Rocker
Rust -- Fitting The New Rocker Cover
02/15/04 05:03:21 PM