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Discussion Starter #1
New guy here but lots of posts over on the TDI Club. I have a new $132 ouch, from the dealer, yes I know. Got time on my hands and a nice warm place to work. It looks like its a cut out under the car and then some screws??? on each end job. Anybody ever done this?

Located in Iowa, retired, with 2000 NB Diesel 1.9 with the turbo of course.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well I thought $132 was kind of high myself. Now that's not installed or painted.
But from what I can see under the car, it needs to be cut loose from a flanged type seam, and then from the top side pried or cut from the the other seam on top. It appears you have to loosen the front and rear fenders to get the old panel up and out. I suppose you could just cut out sections of the new one and weld on over the existing. All remains to be seen...

I was hoping someone on here had either watched it being done or had did it themselves.
 

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That's all a rocker panel cost from the dealer, is 132 dollars? And I wanted to straighten this. :eek:

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I have never even looked up the part because I thought it would be hundreds of $$$$! That actually seems reasonable, but my understanding is that it is seam welded in place which obviously makes it labor intensive. I don't think screws would do it. If you have time and are good with a welder....

From what I have HEARD (not personal experience) it has to be cut out.



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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I have never even looked up the part because I thought it would be hundreds of $$$$! That actually seems reasonable, but my understanding is that it is seam welded in place which obviously makes it labor intensive. I don't think screws would do it. If you have time and are good with a welder....

From what I have HEARD (not personal experience) it has to be cut out.
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I will take a another look at Monday. I'm on call for Honey Do errands today and now that I finally got it back together I'd like to drive it. Took the center dash apart and out, cleaned all the soft vinyl coating off. Replaced the light bulb in the center HVAC panel, and the light under the dash, I call the cup holder light.
I then replaced the drivers side headlight with a new one, what a pain.

The seam welding underneath, I think I can cut out with an abrasive disk, or plasma cutter. I would rather not use the plasma in my shop. The outside seam I can't see it welded in from the bottom, thinking its just pressed in, with some adhesive glue or seam caulking, and the bolts at each end. I have the new part so its kind of nice to see how its put together. Yes it does have the threaded bolt holes at each end, and its pre- painted with some sort of primer.

I've attached a picture of one end, the arrow points to a hole. It is just a nut welded on, I am assuming its to attach the lower fender. Edit: It was to attach rocker panel to under the car "T" shaped bracket.
 

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I will take a another look at Monday. I'm on call for Honey Do errands today and now that I finally got it back together I'd like to drive it. Took the center dash apart and out, cleaned all the soft vinyl coating off. Replaced the light bulb in the center HVAC panel, and the light under the dash, I call the cup holder light.
I then replaced the drivers side headlight with a new one, what a pain.

The seam welding underneath, I think I can cut out with an abrasive disk, or plasma cutter. I would rather not use the plasma in my shop. The outside seam I can't see it welded in from the bottom, thinking its just pressed in, with some adhesive glue or seam caulking, and the bolts at each end. I have the new part so its kind of nice to see how its put together. Yes it does have the threaded bolt holes at each end, and its pre- painted with some sort of primer.

I've attached a picture of one end, the arrow points to a hole. It is just a nut welded on, I am assuming its to attach the lower fender.
Yes, please keep us posted on it. I am curious how much of a PITA this really is.


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Discussion Starter #9
Was bored this afternoon so did some research on how that rear section was put together.

Link> Side panel. Fits: Volkswagen (VW) | Jim Ellis VW Parts

Notice parts marked # 7 2 pieces I think were welded together and then #13 the rocker panel section was added and the whole works spot welded under the body in one piece.

Anyway all I have is #13 note that the number varies from one model NB to another.

So I got out my trusty Harbor Freight air chisel with the air pressure turned down and started to separate the top seam. Can't tell if its the rust or is it just not spot welded that well. But its not all that tight. When I move further back, the seam goes underneath the side panel. I may, haven't decided yet, just cut that part out from the rocker panel with a cut off disk. I will do more tomorrow. Not looking forward to removing the inter fenders.

Oh the white stuff, spray foam. The reason this is rusted, sometime in the past it was damaged real bad, and it had lots and lots of Bondo, and not sealed with undercoating.
 

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Was bored this afternoon so did some research on how that rear section was put together.

Link> Side panel. Fits: Volkswagen (VW) | Jim Ellis VW Parts

Notice parts marked # 7 2 pieces I think were welded together and then #13 the rocker panel section was added and the whole works spot welded under the body in one piece.

Anyway all I have is #13 note that the number varies from one model NB to another.

So I got out my trusty Harbor Freight air chisel with the air pressure turned down and started to separate the top seam. Can't tell if its the rust or is it just not spot welded that well. But its not all that tight. When I move further back, the seam goes underneath the side panel. I may, haven't decided yet, just cut that part out from the rocker panel with a cut off disk. I will do more tomorrow. Not looking forward to removing the inter fenders.

Oh the white stuff, spray foam. The reason this is rusted, sometime in the past it was damaged real bad, and it had lots and lots of Bondo, and not sealed with undercoating.
Thanks for keeping us updated.


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Discussion Starter #11
Sorry for the lack of progress, been down and up with the flu all week. When I get started on a project like this I hate to stop.... for anything. I do think the part of the rocker panel underneath the rear panel ahead of the fender is either not spot welded or not welded that good.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Tools: I used a air chisel with a broad thin attachment to cut the spot welds from the top seam and bottom. I also made use of a 4 ½ inch angle grinder with a abrasive cut off wheel and later on a flap disk to remove rust. A small MIG welder or flux core wire welder is needed to weld the new panel. I also used #10 x ¾ inch stainless steel self tapping screws, and electric drill with driver bit where I could underneath the car to hold the panel. Welding where needed otherwise

Preparation. You need to find a way to support safely the front and rear of the car. I used jack stands.

You need to remove both front and rear wheels and undo the rocker panel side of the inter fenders. I did not remove them completely nor did I take off the fenders or the door. You might need to take a couple fender mount bolts out. Keep track of fasteners removed. The inter fenders had enough “give” , and same with the fenders to work without damaging either. If you can’t get the room to work then remove as needed.
The Image below shows right behind the square bracket with the square hole is one of those "T" shaped brackets.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
A can of penetrating oil helps to loosen bolts. There is one “T” shaped bracket front and rear of the rocker panel. One hole in the bracket is used to attach to a welded stud in the car body, leave that one in place. Another hole is bolted to the rocker panel and the other two holes hold the bottom of the fender in place.

Divide and remove in sections was the plan. I used the angle grinder with abrasive cut off disk (please wear goggles) and cut the old panel in four places. The disk will cut all the way through the panel and if your not careful more than you wanted!!

The old panel was then removed using the air chisel under the car to break loose the welds and prying with a small pry bar and cutting with tin snips.

I made a short video where you can see when the rocker panel is removed and pictures before.

DIY Repairs and Projects - YouTube
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Caution when welding. Disconnect the battery and get your welding ground as close to the weld area as possible. Do NOT clamp to a suspension or frame area, the current going back to the weld can destroy a bearing. Have someone watch for fires!
I cleaned up the standing seam underneath the car and clamped a pair of vise grip pliers to that clean area. Then the welder clamp to the pliers. Using a Miller 175 welder with .035 wire and C25 gas I had the voltage at 3 and wire speed at 3 to 4. You'd be better off with thinner wire, but I used what I had in the machine.

I cleaned up the area underneath the old panel with a wire brush and flap disk on my angle grinder. Then I coated with Rust O leum rusty metal primer. The inside of the new rocker panel was coated with undercoating, except where I needed to weld on the top under the door seam, and the lip of the panel where it needed to be welded to the seam underneath the car.

Put the new panel In place, using the brackets and holes above to bolt in place. This assures that the panel and bolts will all line up before welding. I used stainless steel 6mm bolts and washers to hold the new panel to the brackets,

When welding, Having someone to hold the new part in place, tight against the seam really helps. I welded the top seam first. Start in the middle and spot weld in each direction, allow to cool a bit between welds to help prevent distortion. Then I folded the panel down and was able to secure at the ends underneath with the self tapping screws. Then welded the other areas.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
This is the thinnest metal I’ve ever had to weld with a MIG welder, and when the old metal gets hot underneath the car, wax or varnish like stuff drips out of the seams.

Underneath I cleaned up the welds and sprayed with Rust O leum paint, when It dried I used the seam sealer to cover the holes and gaps, then undercoating spray. The top seam I just cleaned up and gray primed for now. The top of the new panel that is behind the fender, I undercoated before replacing the inter fender and other parts.


Later on I will use the seam sealer and then color paint the entire new panel.

I hope this helps those of you thinking of replacing your rusted or damaged rocker panels. As jobs go, I've done one that were more work. The key is having the tools and a place to work. Yes I took some shortcuts, I think VW says remove both fenders, you can if you want but I had enough flex in mine to work around without breaking the plastic fender.

Will be glad to answer questions and I will revise as time goes on!!
 

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Well done, rockers always fun to weld it seems like you're right close to the sparks, closer than normal. Glad to see you got it all buttoned up without having a CAR-B-Q!!! ;)

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Wow, that is a PIA. Looks like you know your way around a welding tool very well, which is why the spot welds look so good.

Really nice job on getting the old panel off and making the repairs before attaching the new panel.

Great skills, it's looking really clean so far.
 

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very nicely done :bowdown:

having had this done by a body shop on Iki, the talent to do this work yourself will save you a bunch of money. Kudos. :)
 

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Myy right rocker was crushed worse than what you show here.Took it to a competent body shop and for 800 they pulled it out using almos no bondo. They welded tabs to the panel then pulled it out on the rack.Excellent paint match too.Can not tell that it was ever crushed.
 
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