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Is there a definitive guide to rocker panel replacement?

I've searched quite a bit, but can't find exactly what I need. I need to replace the outer rockers on my 69. I've already gotten the replacement panels from restoration design, so I just need a little roadmap before I start cutting into my car. I seem to remember someone doing a great post on it (Milt maybe?) but I can't seem to track it down. Any suggestions?
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Old 09-25-2006, 08:12 AM
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AJ USA

AJ USA has a pretty good catalog that shows parts and sheetmetal
and so does FVD motorsports.

I have seen some good examples in the performance products catalogs as well if you can catch the right issue.

Try those.

Chris
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Old 09-25-2006, 09:29 AM
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Sorry...I must not have explained myself very well. I *have* the sheetmetal, it's the "know how" I'm seeking. I thought there was a thread somewhere that someone had done on it that was kind of a definitive guide. Thanks!
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Old 09-25-2006, 10:14 AM
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Lessee, I don't know if I completely explained the process and documented it with pics. To start, you must locate (a woven wire wheel on an angle grinder works the best) all the spot welds in the door seal channel and at the floor pan, then drill every one. Some say you can cut some stuff flush and then grind the flange off even with the bottom or other piece. That works too, but the drilled holes make plug welding very easy. You can drill completly through the top 2 pieces of the u-shaped door seal channel. Not necessay at the floor pan, but it you do, don't fret.

Off comes the outer piece (sill), which is connected at the front door jamb (be cautious here so as to not loose the "other" piece") and at the door opening radius right at where it becomes flat and straight down from there. There is factory lead there, so be safe when grinding and wheeling.

The inner rocker is welded at the channel at the vertical position and at the bottom pinch seam, so more holes to be done. Try not to drill through these (a spot weld bit does that nicely and they can be had on many sites like autobodytooldotcom, or something like that.

Next, comes the fitting of the new panels. RD stuff, although good, is not plug and play. Truss head sheet metal TEK screws are my favorite temporary assembly device. You can use pop rivets, but you have to drill them out each time you remove. Of course, a bunch of various welder's ViceGrips are nice too, even to hold while you're drilling in the TEK's. And Clecos work well, but the TEKs pull things together when you get ready to weld/

If things don't line up just right, drill another hole, you're going to plug weld them all in the end anyway. Get started on this, I'll keep the thread subscribed and I and the others can walk you through, It's pointless to try and understand all of it until you expose some of the work area. BTW, be careful with your cutting wheel and Sawzall. There's the heater tube inside and it fills up the whole space between the floor pan and the inner rocker. You can end up cutting this inadvertently, not that it will end the world.
Old 09-25-2006, 11:04 AM
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BTW, it's best to get the car completely level side to side and front to back so you can check things as you go. Support the whole car at as many points as you have stands using metal shims. Get more stands, 8 is good. You can use 2 x lumber across level under car places like the bulkhead.

Very important: Support the engine and trans ass'y almost to the point of lift the car off the stands under the trailing arm t-bar projections. You are removing the backbone of the car and you want to do this methodically. You can and should do both sides at the same time, alternating in a hop scotch, back and forth method. If you only have one side to do (unlikely), so be it.

Leave the doors on as much as possible, and check your gaps as you go. You will find they have to off for removal and some welding, so make lots of witness marks while the car is still on the ground, then up in the air. Use the pins for removal and rehanging each time. Build a door jack to help you if you are working alone and the doors are loaded.
Old 09-25-2006, 11:16 AM
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A trick I always used on replacing MGB door sills was to tack weld a piece of rebar across the top of the door opening (tack the ends of the rebar on either side of the door opening) to keep the body from flexing. Of course a convertible MGB flexes a hell of a lot more than a 911!
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Old 09-25-2006, 11:50 AM
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Milt,

Thanks for the great tips. I *do* have to do the outer rockers on each side. I'll get it leveled and cut off, and get back to you.
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Old 09-25-2006, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by emptyo
Milt,

Thanks for the great tips. I *do* have to do the outer rockers on each side. I'll get it leveled and cut off, and get back to you.
Yeah, I know that. And you have inner rockers too. When the crud cakes up from the rear wheel throwing it at the opening, it builds up between the two and rusts them both. If there was no direct path in to that area, I would submitt there would be less problems. It all loads up right at the jack receiver and support.

They fixed that in '74 with the removable rockers. They still rust. Ask any 914 guy with removable rockers. But, on the <'73, you can't get in there to see w/o a borescope (sp?).
Old 09-25-2006, 12:45 PM
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Well, I'm hopeful that the inners aren't shot...the outers aren't TOO bad, but maybe I'm being too optimistic. I s'pose I'll know once they're off!
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Old 09-25-2006, 05:21 PM
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Brad Roberts of 914 and SSI fame has made some braces for the door opening out of plates that match the bolt pattern of the hinge and strike plate, two tabs as in double shear and connected with a tube fixed up with hiem joints. Now, that's the business!

They use these when putting a cage in the tub. You could practice your welding skills on something like that.
Old 09-25-2006, 06:17 PM
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Having done this I can offer a few suggestions over what has already been said.

I used the "cut to the edge of the seam and grind off the remaining metal" approach. My skills at drilling spot welds really suck. It was easier and faster to do this. Besides, even after drilling you have to hit it with a chisl to break the panel loose. This usually requires metal work to straighten the flange or supporting panel prior to fitment of the new one.

where is the rust? Just in the middle, ends? This could make installation of the new rocker easier. For example, on one side of my car the rust was in the forward two thirds of the panel. I cut the panel at the rear seam where the latch panel, rocker and QP overlap. I then trimmed the end of the new rocker and ran a bead of weld up the panel. That leaded joint had to be refinshed (plastic filler) so it was no problem to metal finish the butt weld and hide.

If you can do not disturb the rear section. It is difficult to get to the joint between the rocker and the inner fender support (kidney panel). Its really hard to weld that section unless you are good at welding blind or want to section the quarter panel for access. It can be done but its not easy.

My car had no drivetrain so supporting the rear of the car was not an issue. try to leave the door in place so you can check door/rocker alignment (very often). Nothing worse than welding up a panel to find that your door won't close.

I used RD panels. The fit well with a few notable exceptions. The folds for the upper seam was not "crisp". I had to make them nice and square for a good fit. Also the C shape of the outer rocker was too open. I had to close it up to mate the lower seam.

best of luck.
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Old 09-25-2006, 06:27 PM
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Here's a little trick I came up with for easily removing the inner and outer rockerpanels and using a MIG welder to reassemble it all. Here's how the panels are joined at the factory using a spot welder:



Careful cutting at the upper corner of the weatherstrip lip lets you peel off the inner and outer rockerpanel spotweld flange in one piece without disturbing the good sheetmetal, which keeps the alignment of all the new sheetmetal panels perfect:



When you're welding in the replacement inner rocker panel, you can run a weld bead along the upper inside edge of the weatherstrip lip to rejoin the section left there from the original outer rockerpanel to strengthen it. I like to punch holes for MIG spot welds and then grind the excess weld bead flush to lay the outer rockerpanel sheet metal on top of.

Then when you're putting the new RD outer rockerpanel sheetmetal back on, tin snip that excess upper lip of the weatherstrip lip off the replacement sheetmetal and punch the holes for the MIG spotwelds along the back edge like so:



The sheetmetal panels are reassembled a bit different than original but it allows straight on access of the MIG welder inside the weatherstrip channel instead of a specialized factory spot welder and it is just as strong, if not stronger. Better yet, this method will preserve the original weatherstrip lip from the top side and it looks factory original once back together.

Here's the whole project journal if you're interested in more detail: My quest for a truly rust-free 912
Old 09-25-2006, 10:15 PM
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Darryl, I agree with the lower of the two cuts, but how do you cut the upper one w/o cutting thru the factory lip that you are preserving? Carefully with a disc?

Nice work, as always. I don't know if I saw those particular pics before. Michael ought to have a handle on it by now.
Old 09-26-2006, 06:28 AM
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Hey Milt!

Just another way to "skin a cat" and overcome the limitations of the tools available in a bodyshop and still end up with a virtually invisible repair.

I use the ever versatile 4" grinder with a cut-off wheel to make all the cuts (it's laying on the lift runner in the photo). A pneumatic body saw is a handy gadget to have too.

That upper cut is not all that tricky since there is actually a gap between the outer and the inner panel. I just start from the back and work forward in 5" sections, keeping the cut-off wheel grinding back-and-forth over the cut until it looks like it's almost through the outer layer of steel. Then I just pull on it and it's tears the last little bit off, like opening a sardine can. It's pretty obvious process once you get the strip started. I've found a crowbar handy (and wood blocks to brace it against the heater tube) for those sections that need just a little more convincing to tear apart and stop for more cutting if it starts bending the weatherstrip channel.

This anatomy photo really shows how all the panels go together and what a "rot hole" the cavities inside the rockerpanels and the area under the heater tube are.




I'm always amazed at the amount of dirt and rust scales accumulated there and if any moisture is introduced, it can never completely dry out. By the time rust bubbles start forming on the outer rockerpanel, the inner rockerpanel is most certainly FUBAR as well and will need to be replaced. Then when you remove that, the outer section of floorpan is FUBAR and will need to be replaced. Next thing you know, you're on "the quest for a rust free ______ " (fill in the blank)!
Old 09-26-2006, 09:08 AM
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This is an excellent thread. Thanks for the info and pics!
-Scott
Old 09-26-2006, 10:16 AM
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Wow...Darryl...that picture absolutely rocks. Thanks!

Lets hope this turns into the definitive guide. I will try to outline it like I did my gas tank support repair:

Documentation: Gas Tank Support Replacement 69 911T (Pics)
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Old 09-26-2006, 10:28 AM
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Thanks, Darryl. Yes, I have one of those cross sections, too. Very handy in understanding what is welded to what and when (the sequence). I also have a cross section of an A pillar. Five pieces in all, more than a rocker!! I tellya, rust don't scare Darryl and me
Old 09-26-2006, 03:13 PM
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Ok, I did it.

I finally dug into the rockers today. I got impatient and cut away the inner portion so I could see what was underneath. Good news and bad news.

Good news is, the inner rockers look fine. (whew!) I'll grind the surface clean and POR-15 them for future reference.



Bad news is...

The area to the rear of the rockers looks pretty crappy, and will certainly need to be patched. I am having a hard time telling exactly how the rear of the rocker integrates with the door jam. It looks like it overlaps somehow...is it tacked, or just filled with lead at that point? Any tips appreciated.




I bent the lip of the top so I could start drilling out the spot welds. Should I just grind off the welds to the front as well?

Anyway...I'll document the deal here, so all can benefit. There's no "be all, end all thread on rocker replacement on the message board". Lets make this one the deal!
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Old 12-26-2006, 09:17 PM
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First tip, take a torch and melt away all the lead solder around that rockerpanel/rear quarterpanel joint all the way down to the jack tube and all the assembly secrets will be revealed.
Old 12-26-2006, 09:41 PM
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I just have a propane torch...is that hot enough?
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Old 12-26-2006, 09:46 PM
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