Rocker Panel Replacement

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CanadianYeti
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:38 am

Rocker Panel Replacement

Post by CanadianYeti » Sat Oct 31, 2020 10:35 am

With today being a nicer weather day, I decided to start on my rocker panel replacement. I have some questions, but first I'll start off with the information I have. Replacement/aftermarket rockers don't seem to exist, and from the rocker cover/lip on the rear in the wheel well they seem to be an issue in the saltier places of the world. I was quoted over $2000 to have them replaced at a garage, so I'm tackling it myself. Here is a picture I took, to help visualize the structure and measurements I have taken.

PXL_20201031_173938414.jpg
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From the inside rail to the outside-most point of the rocker, just under the door, is 4".
From the pinch weld at the bottom to the same point, is 3.5".
From the bottom of the pinch weld to the point just under the door is 6" in height.
The outer rocker is pretty thin metal, while the inner rocker is about twice as thick.
Front to back, the rockers are 72".

As for my questions, I'm trying to decide what the best route is for replacement. I could clean it up and weld a layer of sheet metal as an inner and another as an outer, which is the least expensive and quickest option. Another option I am looking at, due to my offroad background and goals for the car, is to use rectangular tubing. I can get a 72" section of 6x2 tubing for $50. If I double these up and weld in these sections on both sides, am I correct in assuming this will stiffen the body as well as adding some extra protection? I am not too concerned about weight, unless it will be putting to much strain on some of the surrounding metal. My last question, is if there is anything around/behind the rockers to be careful of or remove prior to welding, such as the fuel filler neck. Open to opinions, thanks in advance!
05 Vibe Base 5 speed, currently stock

zbyers
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Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:12 pm
Location: Sheffield, Pennsylvania

Re: Rocker Panel Replacement

Post by zbyers » Mon Nov 02, 2020 5:38 am

Honestly, I'd go for the first option. Quicker, easier, and your second idea isn't really necessary for all the car is.

Can you CAD or draw up some dimensions for the rockers you make? Angles, bends, etc. I also need to repair some. I wish we could find some that were readily available. I would have been able to save 4 Vibes we've owned that way.
'74 Thing, '79 El Camino, '83 VW Vanagon DoKa '91 Vanagon,
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Jbenrod
Posts: 86
Joined: Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:58 am

Re: Rocker Panel Replacement

Post by Jbenrod » Tue Nov 03, 2020 6:23 am

I don't have sheet metal experience so can't offer much help but both of your options seem reasonable.

For those of us with the plastic cladding along the rockers, is there any way to examine them without pulling the cladding? I've been afraid of pulling the cladding off because they may not fit tight after putting them back in place - is that concern unfounded?

Will one need to have new fasteners if you pull the cladding or can the old ones be reused?

I also looked for an access hole to spray fluid film and never found any. So if anyone has additional information on prevention or slowing down of the corrosion in this problem area, I think it would be helpful to the Vibe community

CanadianYeti
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:38 am

Re: Rocker Panel Replacement

Post by CanadianYeti » Tue Nov 03, 2020 8:26 am

zbyers wrote:
Mon Nov 02, 2020 5:38 am
Honestly, I'd go for the first option. Quicker, easier, and your second idea isn't really necessary for all the car is.

Can you CAD or draw up some dimensions for the rockers you make? Angles, bends, etc. I also need to repair some. I wish we could find some that were readily available. I would have been able to save 4 Vibes we've owned that way.
I picked up some 18 gauge sheet metal today, turns out it's a little thinner than the inner rocker and a little thicker than the outer rocker but it'll do to get me on the road. The plan is to prep the surfaces, tack weld the top of one sheet to the top of the inner rocker, then tack it to the start of the first bend in the inner rocker. With the rocker support still in place as pictured, the tack and the support should allow me to bend the sheet around the first corner. At that point I'll line it up with the factory pinch weld and tack it before finishing up the rest of the welding. I'm planning on following these steps for the outer rocker as well, but I have to wait for some warmer weather this week. For longevity I'm planning on hitting everything in reach with some rustoleum before and after welding. The end of the rockers towards the rear wheel wells are going to be capped with a section of the 18 ga as well, cut to shape with some shears. As I go I'll try to make some measurements and CAD up a sheet metal section that should be useable.
Jbenrod wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 6:23 am
I don't have sheet metal experience so can't offer much help but both of your options seem reasonable.

For those of us with the plastic cladding along the rockers, is there any way to examine them without pulling the cladding? I've been afraid of pulling the cladding off because they may not fit tight after putting them back in place - is that concern unfounded?

Will one need to have new fasteners if you pull the cladding or can the old ones be reused?

I also looked for an access hole to spray fluid film and never found any. So if anyone has additional information on prevention or slowing down of the corrosion in this problem area, I think it would be helpful to the Vibe community
The plastic cladding is held in place with round plastic "plugs" on the bottom and interior trim clips along the inside, both of which are reusable. For mine I just popped the plugs out with a flathead and pulled out and the covers came off, didn't even have to open the doors. In colder weather the trim clips may break and if the outer rockers are rusted the plastic plugs might not want to grab, so beware. After getting a good look at the rocker profile I think the best rust prevention for these cars would be to use compressed air to remove any debris from the outer rocker, use the plug holes to drill small holes into the inner, then spray the prevention fluid into the inner and outer. Make sure all the holes are plugged to prevent any water or dirt getting in, and it should prolong the life of these vehicles with a good underbody wash if the car sees a salty environment.
05 Vibe Base 5 speed, currently stock

zbyers
Posts: 1464
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:12 pm
Location: Sheffield, Pennsylvania

Re: Rocker Panel Replacement

Post by zbyers » Wed Nov 04, 2020 6:21 am

CanadianYeti wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 8:26 am
I picked up some 18 gauge sheet metal today, turns out it's a little thinner than the inner rocker and a little thicker than the outer rocker but it'll do to get me on the road. The plan is to prep the surfaces, tack weld the top of one sheet to the top of the inner rocker, then tack it to the start of the first bend in the inner rocker. With the rocker support still in place as pictured, the tack and the support should allow me to bend the sheet around the first corner. At that point I'll line it up with the factory pinch weld and tack it before finishing up the rest of the welding. I'm planning on following these steps for the outer rocker as well, but I have to wait for some warmer weather this week. For longevity I'm planning on hitting everything in reach with some rustoleum before and after welding. The end of the rockers towards the rear wheel wells are going to be capped with a section of the 18 ga as well, cut to shape with some shears. As I go I'll try to make some measurements and CAD up a sheet metal section that should be useable.
Awesome. Keep us posted on the outcome and progress pictures.
'74 Thing, '79 El Camino, '83 VW Vanagon DoKa '91 Vanagon,
'04 & '06 CRV, (2) '03 Base, '04 GT, '06 AWD, '07 Base, '17 Frontier CCLB

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CanadianYeti
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Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:38 am

Re: Rocker Panel Replacement

Post by CanadianYeti » Thu Nov 05, 2020 9:46 am

PXL_20201105_151102252.jpg
PXL_20201105_151102252.jpg (372.53 KiB) Viewed 116 times
Started welding in the inner rocker today after patching the rot above the pinch weld. It's my first time really welding so the whole process is a new experience (Go easy on my boogery welds :lol: ). I have the sections of rocker I cut out to make measurements and the CAD file as requested, any tips for posting those files or where I should post them? I can tell this might be a bit of a slow process due to weather, but I'll update as often as I can.
05 Vibe Base 5 speed, currently stock

zbyers
Posts: 1464
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:12 pm
Location: Sheffield, Pennsylvania

Re: Rocker Panel Replacement

Post by zbyers » Mon Nov 09, 2020 4:37 am

CanadianYeti wrote:
Thu Nov 05, 2020 9:46 am
I have the sections of rocker I cut out to make measurements and the CAD file as requested, any tips for posting those files or where I should post them? I can tell this might be a bit of a slow process due to weather, but I'll update as often as I can.
Best bet is probably to upload them to your Google Drive, make public, and then share that link. Otherwise you're extremely limited in the file size you can upload here. I think it's 5mb.
'74 Thing, '79 El Camino, '83 VW Vanagon DoKa '91 Vanagon,
'04 & '06 CRV, (2) '03 Base, '04 GT, '06 AWD, '07 Base, '17 Frontier CCLB

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CanadianYeti
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Re: Rocker Panel Replacement

Post by CanadianYeti » Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:40 pm

The rocker saga continues! Found some nice weather and got the welding on the driver's side finished up. It's not pretty, but bondo and paint make me the welder I ain't!
PXL_20201111_143220694.jpg
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PXL_20201111_155203442.jpg
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For a first time really doing any metal fabrication and welding, and without many of the proper tools and doing it outside, I think it turned out okay. I also took dimensions and made some CAD sketches for anyone looking to have replacements made. I can also add the 3d files and measure for the rocker cover holes if there's demand for it, right now it's just the solid bent sheets with a bent over end cap in the drawings.
outerRocker Drawing v1.pdf
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vibeinnerrocker Drawing v1.pdf
(105.75 KiB) Downloaded 4 times
Upon starting the passenger side, initially it didn't look as bad until my fingers slipped off the pinch weld and went through the body just inside of it and into the rocker cavity. Some more feeling around and it runs almost the length of the car. Without a hoist it's nearly impossible for me to weld, so the plan there is to 3D print some custom dimensioned "angle iron" to JB weld to the pinch weld and other side of the hole, then bondo and undercoat it so it blends in with the rest of the car. As much work as there is still to be done, the end is almost in sight!
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zbyers
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Location: Sheffield, Pennsylvania

Re: Rocker Panel Replacement

Post by zbyers » Mon Nov 16, 2020 9:47 am

Awesome info. This may help me save one, if not two additional Vibes.

I'm guessing your measurements are in millimeters?
'74 Thing, '79 El Camino, '83 VW Vanagon DoKa '91 Vanagon,
'04 & '06 CRV, (2) '03 Base, '04 GT, '06 AWD, '07 Base, '17 Frontier CCLB

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CanadianYeti
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Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:38 am

Re: Rocker Panel Replacement

Post by CanadianYeti » Mon Nov 16, 2020 7:37 pm

Yes, my measurements are in millimeters. Glad to help keep a few of these cars on the road! The length in the document is equal to 36" but use whatever length you need.
05 Vibe Base 5 speed, currently stock

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