Rocker panel replacement C30 crew cab dually
Ten years ago, I began to notice some bubbles in the paint on the rocker panels below the doors of my C30 Chevy dually- a sign of rust, that automotive cancer. Being caught up in building my house, and then the shop, I deferred the problem as the truck was perpetually in use dragging equipment on a trailer, hauling diesel fuel, or making endless runs to the lumber yard and home improvement stores.
The paint flaked. Holes appeared, and grew. Soon one of the doors became infected.
Last year, I ordered some steel repair panels and vowed to weld them in when I had the time – perhaps over the winter. As March wound down, I realized I had run out of winter months and excuses for not doing the job. I began work with the plasma cutter, cutting away the rusted areas and sprayed rust converter (stops rust) on the interior and now exposed metal.
The driver’s side rear door was really in bad shape – not only rusted in the corner, but on the bottom interior toward the front. Perhaps a better solution would have been to source a door from a salvage yard from another truck or suburban. But, waste not, want not – I thought I could fix this.
I cut suitable oversized patches from some scrap 14 gauge steel (several times thicker than the body sheet metal) and slipped it between the inner and outer surfaces of the door and Mig welded it from both sides. Next I ground the welds flush and applied filler. Sand. Fill. Sand again. Sand some more. Prime and sand again.
In this view, we can see the forward area on the inside that needed attention. Behind the carpeted trim panel was a ragged, fist size rust hole. More patchwork with the Mig welder – and more filler and sanding, and the door was structurally sound.
Since the carpeted trim panel will cover this, I didn’t worry that it wasn’t completely flat. Smooth yes…flat, not quite.
I wound up repairing rust in both lower corners of the door. Here is the outside surface viewed from the bottom. There is white paint under the red, and factory dark grey primer under that.
So, on to the rocker panels…
Here is a stamped blank. I ordered 4 of these and then found that the fronts are not the same as the rear. Another catalog supplier had a different listing and while their panels were the correct length, they were not as complete, nor of the same quality.
I wound up doing some sectioning on the rear driver side to get the coverage I was after. I welded them in front and rear, and then drilled holes through the bottom, and folded and hammered the flange over as a wrap under the factory pinch weld, and then welded up the holes as plug welds and ground them down and filled them.
The front ones were able to be done with the doors on the truck, but I couldn’t work the rear ones the way I wanted, so with help from a friend we stripped the interior and removed the rear doors taking the hinges with the doors. Here the driver’s side welding is complete, then on to filling and sanding…
We took time to scribe around the hinges before we removed them. Upon reassembly, we were able to snug the bolts, close the door and then use a heavy drift (a 1″ diameter piece of stock) and a hammer to tap the upper and lower hinges up or down, back or front to adjust the door gap all around the perimeter and then tightened the bolts.
The passenger side went much the same, except no door repair needed, the door having been previously replaced.
More filling, sanding and prep work and then will send the truck off for professional sanding, prep and paint. We are freshening up the worn interior and as this has become more of a work truck and less of a 80’s luxury hauler, I’m swapping out the worn carpet for some heavy duty molded black vinyl flooring over the factory insulation. The rear bench seat is in good shape. The aftermarket front seats are a bit worn, and I’ll look for an opportunity to swap them out with burgundy buckets from a mid to late 80’s suburban.