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Old 12-30-2012, 06:50 PM
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69 Chevelle rocker panel removal

Hello all, I looked in the archives...IMPRESSIVE...and massive, but I haven't seen this ...I am replacing outer and inner rockers, yet my quarters are worth keeping, how do I get the old panels out from under the quarters? And, they seem to run a good 6 inches into the front body post tunnel, there are spot welds on the post skirt, still won't come out. I want to remove whole section, but not sure if it is possible without tearing up quarter or frt post? Thanks
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Old 12-30-2012, 07:42 PM
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Replacing rockers is a very tough and extremely time consuming job not to mention is a major structural point to the car. So this means it is going to tie into a lot of the front A pillar bracing and rear quarter as well even going to be spot welded in places you have not been able to see yet until you start cutting into it. The first thing you should do is weld a brace on the inner door jamb to make sure nothing moves once you start cutting out the rocker. The way I do it to make it easier to get at all the spot welds is cut most of the rocker out of the way as to expose the spot welds. On the quarter I would cut about 1/4 inch bellow the seam at the rocker then you will be able to grind out the spot welds with the rocker out of the way, much easier. I try to use what works best in the situation you have, will use an air chisel (being cautious not to destroy the "good" sheetmetal) or a hammer and filed down screwdriver to get into tight areas. At any rate is not a fun job to do and usually ties into a lot of tight spots in the front lower A pillar. Hope this helps for what its worth............
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:20 PM
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Thanks 4spd, Yea, I need a brace setup. So, cut the box open and grind the welds from inside out, good deal. That will work under the quarter, but I guess the air chisel on the pillar inerds? Yes, it started out with a small rust hole and you know the rest lol. I'm thinking of making the inner's myself, but 59 bucks ain;t too bad. Thanks for the help!
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:24 PM
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Another tip I forgot too mention, when removing the spotwelds I take small worn down cut off wheels and grind directly at the spotwelds almost to the point of grinding off the old rusted sheetmetal, but not exposing the underlying steel. I find this weakens the spotweld much better and almost "pops" right off with little pressure as to not destroy or mangel the steel you want to weld to. I find that using the spot weld cutters (mini hole saw) that 9 out of 10 times you don't always catch the whole weld making it very hard to break apart, then really making a mess out of the underlying steel.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:30 PM
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That lower A piller is the hardest part to seperate, have not done any chevelles but am sure they are not easy. Yeah an air chisel, and grind as many spot welds as you can get at, being careful with that air chisel they can get away from you pretty quiklly leaving a lot of mangled steel.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:34 PM
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Another question, I have the frt up on stands, should I let it down to lessen the flex ? Or does it even matter?
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:38 PM
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Weld the brace in with the car on the ground on the wheels, then it will be locked in to where it should be. Then you can jack it back up.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:55 PM
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Will do, tomorrow a.m. Any tip on tacking those hidden areas back in?
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:07 PM
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None other than just do the best you can with what you can get into or get at. Don't be afraid to weld it up as strong as you can............good luck!!!
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:16 PM
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Thanks, I'll be back lol.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:29 PM
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If you have an air chisel you can even cut it open with one if you have a cutting bit. If you're replacing it due to rust you can probably chisel it off really quickly due to rust breaking down the weld. I usually will try that first to see how it reacts cause sometimes it will almost just fall right off, and other times it will be obvious that the weld is on there too good. Even in the worst case scenario, if you have a good bit and are using it right at worst you will only a few areas where the weld broke off onto your back metal and you just have to grind it off. This means beveled edge of the bit on the metal you are trying to save and angling it a little and paying attention to what's happening. If the metal starts bunching up you can always stop, hammer that area down flat, grind it with a cutt off wheel, and go back to the hammer. An air hammer is a real time saver.
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:28 AM
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The jack stands need to be under the rear axel and under the a frames so all the weight is on the suspension just like it would normaly be.
to find the spot welds a little easier I use a roloc gasket cleaner it shows the outline of the weld nicely You dont need a spot weld drill for this ,all you need is a couple sharp drills and a clicker punch..after cleannig the metal and finding the welds you eyeball the center of the weld and using the punch make a dimple to keep the drill bit from wandering...starting with a 1/8" bit drill all the way through all of the welds Then go to a bit thats slightly larger than the weld (usually 3/8") and drill all the welds out ...Now to make things much easier you need an air chisel and a couple chisels ,first is the panel ripper with three prongs ,this you use before you start drilling to remove all of the rocker thats exposed,with that out of the way you can drill out the welds ez... once the welds are drilled you need a weld cutter chisel basicly its a regular chisel but insted of the sharpe end being flat its V shaped you use this to seperate the layers of metal.You can substitute the air chisel for a hammer and hand chisel but the chisel cant have a beveled edge on both sides only one bevel ,you may have to grind it flat and bevel it yourself...
On that car the welds at the bottom of the 1/4 are inside the 1/4 so you need to take off the interior panel to get in there which all the interior should be out any way, seat too... or after removing most of the rocker ,you can drill out the welds from the bottom...You should never try to just chisel out a weld without first drilling it ,it'll just tear everything up,take longer and just look messy. When its all out nistalling the new one should be pretty ez but there are a few tricks so get back to us...
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Old 12-31-2012, 07:12 AM
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Thanks for all the tips guys, heading out now. All the welds are clearly visible except the pillar aprons, someone must have ground this area before, i've roloced them and no weld visible....oh well, I will report back. PS, I have plenty of body experience and mechanic for 32yrs, done some rocker sections, but not full chevelle ones......yet. Time to freshen her up! Thx
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deadbodyman View Post
The jack stands need to be under the rear axel and under the a frames so all the weight is on the suspension just like it would normaly be.
to find the spot welds a little easier I use a roloc gasket cleaner it shows the outline of the weld nicely You dont need a spot weld drill for this ,all you need is a couple sharp drills and a clicker punch..after cleannig the metal and finding the welds you eyeball the center of the weld and using the punch make a dimple to keep the drill bit from wandering...starting with a 1/8" bit drill all the way through all of the welds Then go to a bit thats slightly larger than the weld (usually 3/8") and drill all the welds out ...Now to make things much easier you need an air chisel and a couple chisels ,first is the panel ripper with three prongs ,this you use before you start drilling to remove all of the rocker thats exposed,with that out of the way you can drill out the welds ez... once the welds are drilled you need a weld cutter chisel basicly its a regular chisel but insted of the sharpe end being flat its V shaped you use this to seperate the layers of metal.You can substitute the air chisel for a hammer and hand chisel but the chisel cant have a beveled edge on both sides only one bevel ,you may have to grind it flat and bevel it yourself...
On that car the welds at the bottom of the 1/4 are inside the 1/4 so you need to take off the interior panel to get in there which all the interior should be out any way, seat too... or after removing most of the rocker ,you can drill out the welds from the bottom...You should never try to just chisel out a weld without first drilling it ,it'll just tear everything up,take longer and just look messy. When its all out nistalling the new one should be pretty ez but there are a few tricks so get back to us...
I disagree, I use the chisel all the time and it comes out perfect. Just gotta know what you're doing and have a good bit. It's much easier to grind off little broken pieces of weld left on the metal than to drill them all out. I do both but with old schools where rust is present I will "try" the air hammer first. It's not for everybody but my work isn't "messy" as you suggest. When I do drill them out I use a good spot cutter and don't drill little holes in the good panel. That's just more work but that's my "opinion".

Last edited by tech69; 12-31-2012 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:03 AM
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I'm tryin to help ya out here tec....I used to use the weld cutters that DID NOT leave a round piece to grind off, they are more like a drill than a hole cutter...Those blair style hole cutters are absolutely useless because you HAVE to grind that plug off,If your going to do it why not do it all in one step and not have any grinding to do (think of all the time you'll save) were not talkin one weld are we? when I replace a panel theres usually hundreds of welds to drill and then theres the "chunk" the section I'm getting the new used panel from, all those welds have to be cut also..
Unfortunately the best weld cutters cost over 50.00 (20yrs ago) I've wore out a good bit of them.and spent a ton of cash getting them....
OK so when you want to cut a weld you only want to cut one layer of metal right (like on the pinch weld where the weather strip fits over) theres two options here, using the low angle 5.00 drill bit I use I can drill just the rocker skin and leave a nice clean spot to weld but I'll have to punch a hole in the rocker for the plug weld OR I can drill all the way through and NOT punch a hole in the new rocker but weld it from the inside of the car and leave a pretty looking burn spot on the outside that needs a simple scuffing to prep for paint..... insted of a weld that also needs grinding....
Just by chance I have a camaro in the shop that needs a rocker removed and replaced I think I'll make a video to show you guys a bunch of tricks to get a better,faster job ,start to finish.... I'm replacing the whole rocker ,end to end on a 85 camaro not a whole lot different for your firebird...

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