Driver-side Rocker Panel Replacement

The replacement of the driver-side rocker was pretty much the same process as the passenger side. Fortunatley, things are always a little easier the second time around and the removal was pretty straightforward. Once I had the old rocker off, I again had to carry out some minor repairs to the inner-fender section that tucks behind the rocker. However, the inner rocker was good shape; all it required was some cleanup with a wire brush and a coat of POR-15. If you're paying attention, you'll notice that the factory primer has been removed from this rocker. There's no good reason for this, other than I just happened to have this rocker on hand when I had the car stripped and the rocker ended up getting stripped as well. At the time, I didn't realize that the factory e-coat was pretty good stuff. No big deal, I just painted the inside of the driver rocker with POR-15 so it won't rust again. Well, I'll just shut up now and let the pictures speak for themselves.

driver rocker 01

By 2002 standards, it hardly looks rusty at all. Remember, the rust you can see is just the tip of the iceberg.

driver rocker 02

I drilled out the spot welds with a rotary spot weld cutter. To keep the cutter from 'walking', I usually pre-drill the spot weld a little bit with a 1/8" drill bit. This is the most labor intensive part of the project.

driver rocker 03

The quarter panel section comes off first. Here are some of the spot weld locations.

driver rocker 04

Here are some more spot weld locations.

driver rocker 05

It's also necessary to drill out spot welds on the rear fender lip.

driver rocker 08

More spot welds to drill...

driver rocker 07

And more.

driver rocker 06

Now the lower section of the quarter panel can be cut...

driver rocker 09

And removed. Go slowly, there'll almost always be a few spot welds that you've missed.

driver rocker 10

Now we get to see how bad the rust really is.

driver rocker 11

Here's the inside of the quarter panel. Water gets trapped between the two layers and the whole mess rusts from the inside out.

driver rocker 12

Now the top of the rocker panel is being pulled back. You can see where the B pillar attaches to the rocker.

driver rocker 13

Once all of the spot welds have been drilled out, the rocker comes right off.

driver rocker 14

I've found it necessary to remove the lower-front section of the inner fender; there allways seems to be some rust hiding behind there.

driver rocker 15

Inside the fender. I've cut through an approximately 3-inch weld (the rusty part of picture) and am using a chisel to separate the inner fender from the wheel well.

driver rocker 16

After some more cutting with the body saw, the lower section of the inner fender will come off.

driver rocker 17

Here's the inside. It's acutally in better shape than it looks. I only needed to replace a small section.

driver rocker 18

Then, I removed the next layer.

driver rocker 19

Here you can see the inside. Again, it's better than it looks. I don't have any more pictures of this area, but the restoration work here was very similar to the passenger side.

driver rocker 20

By this time, the inner fender has been reassembled and everything on the inside has had a liberal coat of POR-15. Now, I'm checking the fit. I also took careful precautions to make sure that the body was straight and square at this point.

driver rocker 21

Checking the fit up front. You can see holes drilled for plug welding.

driver rocker 22

The inside of the rocker was painted with POR-15. Then, I removed any POR-15 from within a 1/2 inch or so of the weld locations. The silver-colored paint is 3M Weld-Thru primer.

driver rocker 23

The sparks fly. Special thanks to my good friend Barry for taking the welding pictures.

driver rocker 24

Behold, a 2002 with two solid rocker panels! Just need to clean up the welds a little bit with a grinder and it will be ready for primer.

Next up? I'm going to replace both quarter panels. I'll be using used quarter panels sourced from 2002AD. Stay tuned for updates.

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