can someone explain "soft floorpans" to me? Maybe even ballpark what it'll cost me? - Hot Rod Forum : Hotrodders Bulletin Board
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Old 08-27-2007, 11:08 PM
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can someone explain "soft floorpans" to me? Maybe even ballpark what it'll cost me?

I hear this term alot regarding rust...a soft panel. I'm not a body guy, so it may sound like a really dumb question, please forgive me. I know surface rust, I know rust, I know rot, I know cancer, etc. But what is a soft floor? The inspector I hired to look at the car I'm thinking about buying since I can't be there in person called me today and says that there are some rust issues, the floor is soft. While waiting to see the photographs he's taken, I only have a couple hours to decide whether or not I'm still interested in the car...but the pictures won't be available until tomorrow afternoon. And so, I turn to you guys.

I would think that "soft" implies there are spots that the surface rust has weakened the metal to the point that it gives way under pressure...but most of the floor would still be solid, so only patch panels would be needed instead of a whole new floor. Is this accurate?

I'm imagining this rust damage I didn't know about could cost anywhere from say $500-$3000+ to repair, though I really have no clue. If the pans are soft do they need to replace the entire floor? What kind of labor are we looking at on that? If its just patches?

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Old 08-28-2007, 06:06 AM
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I am not sure if there is a universally accepted definition of "soft" floorpans. If someone told me I had soft floorpans, I would be inclined to understand it the same way you did. The metal has rusted to the point that pitting has occurred. The pitting is significant to the point that the metal has been thinned so much it has lost its rigidity.

I can't help you on how much it will cost as I am in the process of replacing my "soft" panels (some of them actually were beyond "soft" LOL), doing them myself. I will tell you this, chances are excellent that you will have to go well beyond the "soft" area with the replacement panel. I started by trying to make the patches as small as possible. I now mark well beyond where I think I should stop and then I cut a few more inches past that.

I can also understand why I can't afford to have someone do the work for me. It is filthy, painful, and tiring work. My wife was amazed that rust has its own unique smell and it is not all that pleasant, particularly when mixed with sweat (and sometimes blood - reminds me I should get a tetanus booster).

Good luck with your project. If what I said disturbs you, you may want to pass on the "soft" one and find a "solid" one.
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:46 AM
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In our shop, we don't use the term soft. But I suppose it fits. Pans can be OK, and still be soft. Still needing some TLC, to control the rust, from getting worse. Soft does not unnecessarily mean replace.
Dave
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:31 AM
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To Really Answer This Question You Would Need More Info. What Kind Of Car ? Are Panels Available ? Is It A Driver Or A Show Car?
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Old 08-28-2007, 11:47 AM
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Its a '51 Pontiac Streamliner, I have no idea whether or not panels are available...I'm sure they're not as plentiful as panels for a '55 Bel Air or a '69 Camaro though. Its a driver, almost borderline on qualifying as a rat. Here are a few pics I just got this morning from the inspector, I'll gladly welcome any opinions.









From the pictures, it looks like those are the worst areas, especially those innner rockers that no longer exist. The rest of the floor actually looks solid & dry. Topside, the entire car looks solid so I was really surprised to see rot in the floors.

Here's a shot of the condition the rest of the floorboards are in...
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Old 08-28-2007, 01:25 PM
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soft floors......

hi,i looked at the photos,you can buy rockers and floorpans for a 51 chevy. (same car) different trim. what do you want to do with the car???hot rod? rat rod? custom car? nice driver? how much money do you want to spend? do you want to get your hands dirty? if so,this will be a good place to get dirty hands.i cant give you a price,because i dont know what labor costs in atlanta. BUT,I would replace rockers and entire floor (leaving trans tunnel ) its not a hard job,but it can be a B - - - H.it will take from 30 to 60 hours to do it right. PLUS,i woul;d take the body off the chassis,it will be a lot easier to work on. after you make up your mind,what you want to do,send in another post,and im sure we (all hotrodders) will get you started off in the right direction,. BUT,why not spend $1,000 or so,and buy a nice hot wrench setup (cutting torch) and a good mig welder,and then with the info you will get here,DO IT YOURSELF....
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Old 08-28-2007, 02:10 PM
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I'm looking for a nice driver, I like the look of rat rods but not the stigma that goes with it. I don't want a rusty unsafe vehicle because it looks cool, I want a cool looking vehicle that I can spend more time enjoying than polishing. I think the appropriate term for what I want is a traditional hotrod. I don't want it to ever be a $60,000 show car. I want to go to cruise nights, I want to take the car in to the club I work at when we have a good rockabilly band in town. I just want to drive and enjoy it. I don't have time to do the work myself, let alone the equipment or skillset, though if I had the time I love the idea of getting the equipment and gaining the knowledge from everyone on here. For now, I want my investment on the car to pretty much be the initial purchase price. The seller and I had agreed on a price pending results of the inspection, I was under the impression that it was a rust free car, so I plan to make my follow up offer be that initial price minus the amount it'll cost to have someone fix the rust for me.

Here's a pic of the top side of this car to give you an idea of what kind of ride I want...its pretty much exactly the style I'm going for. Its clearly not a $100K street rod, some call it rat, some call it traditional, I just want to drive it.
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Old 08-29-2007, 07:02 AM
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If you just want to drive it, you don't have to do any thing to it. It took 50years of neglect to get that bad. You will be dead, be fore it gets much worse. Put a rust conversion on the rust, then cover it with carpet.
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Old 08-29-2007, 11:40 AM
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The appraisal was completed late last night. Deals off & I'm not touchin' the car. It got appraised at $2100 as a class 5 vehicle due to extensive undercarriage rust, soft floors beginning to rust through, and frame rot. They think the rotted frame is bad enough to be a danger on the road. The guy was selling me the car for almost 4 times its value. I'm really bummed out because its an awsome car, but there's no way I'll buy that thing from him now. Not even for $1000.
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Old 08-29-2007, 04:24 PM
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Looks like another case where they made the body look good and hoped no one would look under it. The appraisal was a good idea, and money well spent.

Aaron
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Old 08-29-2007, 04:26 PM
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Yup. I can't think of too many occasions where I'd be this relieved to shell out $275 and have nothing to show for it...but this is defnately one of those instances.
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Old 08-30-2007, 12:44 AM
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rust

Nothing like a prepurchase check to bring a dream back to reality. It was money well spent.
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Old 08-30-2007, 04:26 AM
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Bill,
I wouldn't have said "soft"

I would have said it is "worked" (lost it's temper strength from age and repeated hot and cold and flexing on the road) sheet metal

twist even a brand new piece of steel enough times and it eventually takes no force to twist it....it's now "worked' steel
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Old 08-30-2007, 02:46 PM
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rusty floors

i wouldnt call the floors and rockers soft,or worked,or anything but what they are,,,, rusted out junk.. no patch will help them,time for a complete rebuild .new rockers and floors. it did have a decent paint job though.
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