Rocker Panel Brackets continued - Chapter 2
When I got the truck in 2008 I needed to pull the trans cover at one point to address a broken wire on the overdrive switch. With everything pulled off the floor I decided to do a quick and dirty POR15 to keep the rusted areas from growing. Cleaned everything, treated the rust (MetalReady) and covered with POR and some color-matched Ace stuff. At the same time, I examined the inside of the rocker channels through the "port" holes and only found a little surface rust in the seams. Cleaned them out, treated the insides and sealed the areas with POR and some of those long wire handles with the paint ball dauber on the end. Those black paint runs you can see in some of the current bracket photos are run-out from that project. I think (hope) those areas will be solid for a long time. But I'll try to replace any bad stuff around the brackets or any other areas that are more than surface rust.
Middle bracket looks better but rust is still eating it's way up into the rocker floor.
One way I've managed to get to some of those hard to reach, goober factory welds is with a carbide burr and die grinder. Good for getting into spots the angle grinder can't get to and eats the weld blob away.
Broke the same bolt on the driver's side running board.
Decided to use Heli-coil inserts instead of fighting the old bolts out. Probably makes for a stronger thread anyway. These seem to be M10 X 1.25 for OEM hardware.
Balance of 14 GA brackets for the rockers. Looked at buying a small Grizzly bench brake but in the end just more hammer and vise. These are just roughed-in - need a little more file/hammer work. Should have made all 4 at the same time.
16 GA. or 14 GA.?
In earlier drawings I showed the material thickness for these brackets at 16 GA. That thickness was based on the first one I pulled, driver’s side rear, which was pretty toasted. The only clean areas I could mic were .060 max. Assuming 16 GA. comes in around .0598 I made that bracket and 1/2 bracket from 16 GA. These (the balance of 3 from both sides) seem markedly heavier than that, measuring in at .065 and up. Cold-roll sheet coming in all over the place, (the “14 GA” I just bought measures .069 - .006 inch under the .0747 that 14 GA is listed at) I made these a little heavier.
So these 3 brackets are .004 thicker than the material (.065) that was put in at the factory.
April 07, 2011
In process on a rough support jig out of plywood for use with the Bosch saw that will just clamp to the rockers. This gives the sheet metal support (cuts down the vibration) and gives the blade the right distance so it's not banging into the inside rocker wall, etc.
Making more and more cuts with this saw and a fine tooth blade for steel these days. Anything to get away from the angle grinder/cut-off disc. Cuts are faster, colder and seem more accurate.
Cutting out the bad stuff...
Got some patches made up - now a bit more cleaning up down under/inside and I should be ready to weld the patches. Think the 3 last brackets and inside the welded patches will get a brushed-on coat of EP and time to cure before they get welded back in.
Floor pieces going in - still need grinding and a bit more weld. Good leather welding jacket with a nice high collar recommended.
Grinding and some more touch-up welding complete on "floor" patches and ready for the brackets. Note I'm leaving quite a bit of the weld bead where it doesn't interfere with the bracket that lays on top. Can't see grinding that away to thin (weaker?) metal when it get's covered with undercoating, etc. anyway.
Finally - tacking the 14 GA brackets in. Made a small clearance cut in (2, 4) that really is not stock, but seemed to help the brackets sit better.
Just when I thought the rockers were almost finished I took a closer look at the little rear vertical sub-bracket and found another problem. This area (front of the passenger side rear fender) on #3 has the small vertical sub bracket stacked where the bolt holds the brackets together. The rust was pushing the small bracket to the inside and was almost rusted through (even though it looked fine on the outside). Made a new small bracket earlier on #1 - I'll try to cleanup and reuse this one in addition to a new 18 GA patch for the outside.