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Hey everybody,

I have a 2004 Beetle Convertible that has been living in the Canadian rust belt for its whole life. It doesn't get driven much during the winter as I have an old Golf winter beater and its been rust proofed since I got it, but that wasn't enough. My driverside rocker panel is rotted out underneath with holes in certain spots and soft spots in others. My passenger rocker is beginning to get some soft spots and will look like the driverside in a year or two. Has anybody successfully gotten this fixed at a body shop either the dealership or other?

Thanks
 

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Side skirts

Hi everybody this is my first post what good timing I just dove into the side skirt dilemma last night. I have a 2003 Turbo S (Buggley)that I bought slightly wrecked and also a parts car (Schtinkley-mice used him for a toilet) Anyway I cut Shtinkleys driver side skirt off last night since I need it to fix Buggleys and also more importantly wanted to see what was under it. Hopefully the photos came thru- the skirt itself is not structural it is just tacked on to the real rocker panel underneath it.
I cut the bottom off first with a cutoff wheel, broke loose the tack welds at each end then just wiggled the whole thing up and down until it started to break away from the door jamb then cut the top spotwelds with a sawsall. I am planning to re-attach using some simple tinnermans like are used for door panels along with some epoxy on the top flange, and using pop rivets to attach the bottom, then seal up any gaps. Cutting off the old one is the messy part, but then the rest looks easy.
Don't start cutting up the vertical flange inboard of the skirt, that is the structural part!
 

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I had the same issue - 2003 1.8t Convertible in black... Just bought, and both rocker panels rotted...

They actually make whole replacement rocker panels you can buy and tack in.

I had a body shop do mine..
 

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Good photos and excellent repair work! Where has this car lived; most of it's life, to have this relaitively substantial rust problem? I can only assume; you were beyond vw's body corrosion warranty?
 

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Ah, harsh winters and salt; makes sense! Tell us about your repair strategy; did you think of buying a new rocker panel and welding it in, vs. what you decided to do? Did you fabricate all your own repair panels or did you adapt; used good sheet metal? Looking at the photos; it looks like you made your own and fabricated things, as you went. I'm always fascinated by repairs like this! Thanks! :)
 

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I used 21ga sheet steel.
The first step is to attack the rusted areas with a flap disk remove the rust and paint to acess the damage.
The rockers have a compound curve with about a two inch arc front to back and a two inch diameter top to bottom so rather than try to fabricate the panel in one piece I decided to make the repairs with patch panels. Then once you decide how big the patch has to be you rough out a pice of sheet metal and overlay the patch and trace around it. When you cut out the old metal with the cut wheel leave the line so you can fine tune the gap.
I always do butt joints. After the old metal is cut out the new pice will need some adjustments, when it is ready it should fit in and stay until you get the first spot of weld. If it is a sloppy fit you can use a magnet to hold it in place. Once the tack weld is there you can tighten things up with clamps and vise grips.
Most guys prefer to mig weld. I have a mig but I like oxy actylene welding because I am old school and I like using the heat to shrink and shape the panel while I work on it. To secure the bottom flange on the rocker I use sheet metal screws and melt them with the torch to make a spot weld. Before I welded the end caps in i blasted galvanizing zinc through the rocker tunnel. I think I probably used 16 or 18 square ft of metal on both rockers combined. After the metal was welded and shaped I skimmed the repairs with filler.
Then the primer. The rockers are tough to paint especially with a hvlp gun. Getting good coverage takes extra care on the rockers because it is difficult to get the distance and angle you need to spray them.
New rocker panels would be less expensive when you concider the time it takes to fabricate, but I enjoy doing the work.
 

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Thanks, for the detailed response; I had assumed, it would be more cost effective, to replace the whole panel vs. welding in smaller hand made patch panels. I always wanted to do this type of repairs; when I worked at a diesel body shop but unfortunately, everything was fiberglass and replacement panels, less actually body repair was the direction, the in house semi truck repairs were going. I'm always impressed with traditional "panel beating" type of sheet metal repairs, that require traditional body repair hand skills and find the process of interest! I assume these days with so much plastics and cars being totalled so often; much of these traditional skills, are being lost! It looks like allot of fun but time consuming! Living in the Southwestern part of the country; we do not see much of this type of rust repair problems! :)

Excellent body repair results; I wouldn't notice anything out of the ordinary, after all the sheet metal work! Nice job and thanks for educating us; on "what it takes", to do this type of work! :)
 

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Awesome job on the repair!I have a 2001 Beetle I just purchased and the right rocker was curbed. I was thinking of using old Beetle running boards and cutting them to fit to give the new beetle an old style flair. Anyone ever seen it done or have any thoughts on it?
 

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I used 21ga sheet steel.
The first step is to attack the rusted areas with a flap disk remove the rust and paint to acess the damage.
The rockers have a compound curve with about a two inch arc front to back and a two inch diameter top to bottom so rather than try to fabricate the panel in one piece I decided to make the repairs with patch panels. Then once you decide how big the patch has to be you rough out a pice of sheet metal and overlay the patch and trace around it. When you cut out the old metal with the cut wheel leave the line so you can fine tune the gap.
I always do butt joints. After the old metal is cut out the new pice will need some adjustments, when it is ready it should fit in and stay until you get the first spot of weld. If it is a sloppy fit you can use a magnet to hold it in place. Once the tack weld is there you can tighten things up with clamps and vise grips.
Most guys prefer to mig weld. I have a mig but I like oxy actylene welding because I am old school and I like using the heat to shrink and shape the panel while I work on it. To secure the bottom flange on the rocker I use sheet metal screws and melt them with the torch to make a spot weld. Before I welded the end caps in i blasted galvanizing zinc through the rocker tunnel. I think I probably used 16 or 18 square ft of metal on both rockers combined. After the metal was welded and shaped I skimmed the repairs with filler.
Then the primer. The rockers are tough to paint especially with a hvlp gun. Getting good coverage takes extra care on the rockers because it is difficult to get the distance and angle you need to spray them.
New rocker panels would be less expensive when you concider the time it takes to fabricate, but I enjoy doing the work.
I understand this is a Forum for Beetle. A VW dealership damaged the rocker panel of my Passat 2016
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car. Their lift jack slipped they say. Do you have any ideas how they might repair this damage?
 

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I would assume this is a insurance claim; i'm sure this can be repaired like any typical dent (pulling, straightening, body fill, primer, sealer, reapply protective coating, top paint coat, etc). You might go to some local bodyshops for estimates?


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