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#1847330 - 04/06/10 03:07 PM Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels
sciphi Offline


Registered: 03/24/07
Posts: 8059
Loc: Upstate NY
It's springtime at long last, and my 1999 Buick LeSabre's rocker panels finally succumbed to 8 years of salty NY winters and 2 years of SC humidity. I'm planning on replacing them, as the rest of the car is intact, and it's cheaper than another car.

So far the plans are to get new (likely aftermarket) rocker panels and install them after cleaning up the corrosion inside the old ones, and gooping POR-15 over every rusted surface so it slows the spread.

My question is: What are the pros and cons to welding and riveting something substantial like a rocker panel? I have no experience welding, and am willing to learn. Riveting is something I've done in the past, and got pretty good at.
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#1847374 - 04/06/10 03:33 PM Re: Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels [Re: sciphi]
Bluestream Offline


Registered: 09/13/03
Posts: 3613
Loc: Waterloo, ON
You can braze them on and that is very easy to do. You will have to grind or scrap all the flux from the weld joint as it can ruin the mud. Rivets are not going to hold well, and with the flexing you will see cracks in your body work in time. Body shops spot weld, but that is not suitable for home use. Brazing with 3/32 brass rod is easy to do if you get get an oxy-acetylene torch


Edited by Bluestream (04/06/10 03:34 PM)
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#1847375 - 04/06/10 03:34 PM Re: Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels [Re: sciphi]
mechtech2 Offline


Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 19479
Loc: Chicago Area
It is tough welding sheet metal.
Especially old rusted stuff.
I'd use rivets.
You have to seal and blend the area in anyway.

BTW, it's smart of you to coat and prevent rust now.
The extra hours are well worth it.

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#1847396 - 04/06/10 03:49 PM Re: Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels [Re: mechtech2]
Bluestream Offline


Registered: 09/13/03
Posts: 3613
Loc: Waterloo, ON
If you cant weld to it, you can rivet to it either, Grind back until you get to good steel, and weld her up. Then spray oil undercoating after your down to slow down the rust
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#1847471 - 04/06/10 04:53 PM Re: Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels [Re: Bluestream]
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 32536
Loc: New Jersey
Biggest issue to me with welding in is that you may not be able to rustproof the insides of the panels or weld seams.

At least with riveting you can control some of that. But I'd use heavy gauge metal, stainless hi-strength rivets, and lots of them.

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#1847494 - 04/06/10 05:15 PM Re: Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels [Re: JHZR2]
TXMXTruck Offline


Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 121
Loc: Houston, TX & NL Mexico
Originally Posted By: JHZR2
Biggest issue to me with welding in is that you may not be able to rustproof the insides of the panels or weld seams.

At least with riveting you can control some of that. But I'd use heavy gauge metal, stainless hi-strength rivets, and lots of them.


Yes to Stainless hi-strength and check this link to avoid electrolysis!

http://www.berridge.com/Preventing%20Electrolysis.pdf
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#1847513 - 04/06/10 05:27 PM Re: Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels [Re: JHZR2]
sciphi Offline


Registered: 03/24/07
Posts: 8059
Loc: Upstate NY
The areas I'd be bonding to are either underneath the car or covered by door seals. Aesthetics is taking a back seat to functionality.

The areas under the car are far rustier than under the door seams. Might it be doable to braze the non-rusted areas, and rivet the rusty areas?

I riveted a small piece into my car's wheel well last spring. The prep work was far more time-intensive than the riveting. That piece is still in there as firmly now as it was back then.
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#1847622 - 04/06/10 06:50 PM Re: Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels [Re: sciphi]
eljefino Offline


Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 22951
Loc: ME
Rivets have treated me well. I just get sheet metal and use some 2x4s and clamps as a metal brake to put the folds in-- they aren't too fancy.

With function over form, I use RTV instead of bondo. RTV repels water, bondo soaks it up. Flat black spray paint hides a LOT down in the shadowy areas below.

If you use 1/8" rivets get a 10 pack of drill bits from lowes or whomever as you'll burn through a lot of them drilling through rust. The pinch weld that goes up into the unibody is thick stuff and an important anchorage for the whole shebang.

Let these pictures inspire you to do better!

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#1847676 - 04/06/10 07:35 PM Re: Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels [Re: eljefino]
sciphi Offline


Registered: 03/24/07
Posts: 8059
Loc: Upstate NY
Thanks for the pictures! I'll try to do better than that. By 1/8" rivets do you mean 1/8# diameter or grip? I've used 1/4" grip rivets in the past, and they're too long.

The plan is to get panels, rivets, and then go to town on the rust. Once the rust is sanded and prepped, the panels will go on and get rattle-canned about the right color. These are rocker panels after all. As long as they look about right I'm not too particular.

I'm thinking I want POR-15 for the rust I can't see yet. I've used rust converting spray in the past with mixed results. Something a little stronger would be good this time around.


Edited by sciphi (04/06/10 07:39 PM)
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#1847774 - 04/06/10 08:57 PM Re: Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels [Re: sciphi]
eljefino Offline


Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 22951
Loc: ME
Pretty sure I mean diameter. Drill 1/8" holes in stuff and these rivets will hold it all together.

The pro job, not shown in those pics, is to make another fold that goes over the pinch weld, where you jack to change tires, and rivet through that thick stuff. Usually the rust goes right up to the weld, the way water gets trapped in there. Don't be afraid to use a few self tapping screws as well.

Also look in your fender liners real good for holes that are covered with black paint or undercoating and nothing else... this gets in the rockers and hilarity ensues.

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#1848074 - 04/07/10 08:31 AM Re: Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels [Re: eljefino]
addyguy Offline


Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 13410
Loc: Canada
I'm still impressed with that repair job, eljefino!

:D
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#1848402 - 04/07/10 02:00 PM Re: Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels [Re: addyguy]
JakeR22 Offline


Registered: 09/23/04
Posts: 627
Loc: il
Have you considered body panel adhesive?

It's what most shops are using.

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#1848532 - 04/07/10 04:12 PM Re: Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels [Re: JakeR22]
sciphi Offline


Registered: 03/24/07
Posts: 8059
Loc: Upstate NY
Originally Posted By: JakeR22
Have you considered body panel adhesive?

It's what most shops are using.


I heard the adhesive was more of a sealant for a mechanical repair. It would be considered if I knew more about it.
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#1848926 - 04/07/10 10:17 PM Re: Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels [Re: sciphi]
wapacz Offline


Registered: 11/21/05
Posts: 925
Loc: MI
Originally Posted By: sciphi
Originally Posted By: JakeR22
Have you considered body panel adhesive?

It's what most shops are using.


I heard the adhesive was more of a sealant for a mechanical repair. It would be considered if I knew more about it.


I saw some guys on tv use it to put a new bed side on a truck. So apparently there is stuff out there designed to do it. You could always put a few rivets in as some extra security.

As for the welding. Its not that hard to learn but I would play around with scrap a bit first.

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#1849351 - 04/08/10 11:04 AM Re: Welding VS. Riveting for New Rocker Panels [Re: sciphi]
JakeR22 Offline


Registered: 09/23/04
Posts: 627
Loc: il
Originally Posted By: sciphi
Originally Posted By: JakeR22
Have you considered body panel adhesive?

It's what most shops are using.


I heard the adhesive was more of a sealant for a mechanical repair. It would be considered if I knew more about it.


No, it's to bond parts to eachother. Most body shops don't even weld panels anymore.

Check this out.

http://v8tvshow.com/content/view/595/1/

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