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Old 09-01-2004, 02:19 PM
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Tweaking lazy patch panels?

I've been collecting patch panels for my 55 Chevy truck. While for the most part I'm impressed with the detail and quality I've gotten a rocker panel that doesn't quite cut it. It's a bit lazy, ie rather than 3 crisp flat sides, it more like 3 curved or crowned sides. I think the most important side could be flattened an sharpened up with a hammer or a vice while using a flat backing plate behind the rocker panel. My question is would you use heat to assist and would you reshape before or after it's installed on the truck?

Thanks,
Keith
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Old 09-01-2004, 11:46 PM
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I just put inner and outer rocker panels on my 49 Chevy. They came out great!!!!!!!! From my limited expereince, I would definetly shape them before and check the fit before welding. I took reference points from my old rockers before cutting them outand welding in the new ones and then cut the areas to fit the new rockers so they lined up with those reference points.

I almost forgot. I shaped mine without heat (mallet) and persuasion while fitting them in. GO slow, it is worth many looks.
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Old 09-02-2004, 05:09 AM
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Hi Ron. Sounds good. In my case, althought I bought a whole rocker, I'm only using an inch or two. I'm replacing an inch of rotted rocker that the new cab corners won't cover. As you say it's about reference points.

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Keith
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Old 09-02-2004, 06:50 PM
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if you want the patch to look right you should tweak it to match what you have on the truck or the repair will stick out like a sore thumb. get the lines to match as close as posible.

if the contours are really off that much you migh want to use the whole piece so it doesn't look out of place.
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Old 09-02-2004, 07:50 PM
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Helrazr3,

I'll hammer, grind and fill if necessary...I'm not the "that's good enough" type at anything I do..(I wish that wasn't so). I like the odds of getting 1-2" to look right rather than 30". As much as I hate to say it I think imported panels may be better than some US made..I've noticed some of panels ship with a black coating that I tend to associate with imported panels(not a fact thou). They historically have had a good ,crisp look. Other ship in bare metal and they seem to lack the good detail..I'm sure it's a different manufacturer. I think in the past some US made panels have lacked the good lines..but afterall they were still better than body rot. Competition is good. Don't get me wrong I'm PRO American manufacturing...I've worked for US metal stamping houses for 25 years(not body panels) and prefer to buy American as long as the quality's there.

I'll get off the soapbox now...Thanks for the response. Great place this Hotrodder's..All opinions weigh heavy.

Keith
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Old 09-03-2004, 12:03 AM
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Just a thought or two here. I think often when it comes to old cars, those panels are often made by small shops. I know of a local major Chevy Restoration Association who sells replacement panels for the 40 -50s Chevs, and I have talked to them personally many times (I live a few miles away). They do 2 things to get many of their replacement panels.
#1. They have made prints from original pieces and they have small local fab shops fabricate them. Since I have worked in that field for years, I notice that they consistently have slight discrepancies in areas such as bend radius, flatness and overall dimensional accuracy, but close. What is happening is that the originals were die stamped and these aftermarkets were made on a press brake which will lead to some dimensional variances if the operator is not ,....well lets say in tune. What happens is that these discrepancies keep adding up which leads to overall poor fit, cupping, bowing etc.
#2. They make their own panels on a finger brake.
In either case, both are a long way from a factory die stamped piece. Even if you can find someone that has repalcement die stamped parts, you cannot always be sure that these dies were machined to the same factory specs, again bend radius, material stretch allowance and so on. But hey, they are better than nothing when it comes to the older cars, and with a little massaging, they can work very well. I would also recommend taking a look at your rockers closer. I have found that a small 2" section might look bad, but usually there is more going on if you were to take the whole rocker off, hence the situation I found and why I replaced mine complete. I thought mine just had a bad small patch, but when I started cutting them out, they were really thin in areas. Good luck, LUV those old Chevs.

One other last thing. Check that those drain holes on the bottom of the rockers are not plugged. They need to drain the moisture.
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Old 09-03-2004, 07:30 AM
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Hey Ron-

I believe that some of the better stuff is actually being stamped. doors, hoods and fenders have started showing up ov er the past 2 years...I believe from China or Taiwan. They look very good...good detail. They don't seem to make the rocker yet. If they made one as good as the lower fender patches I bought I likely would replace the whole rocker. On my 55 there's no inner/outer...just the outer. The rest of the rocker is solid. My plan is to cut a piece to patch in from the rocker I bought.... Massage it somewhat and lay it in place. At that point I'll be able to tell if it's close enough to make an invisible repair with additional grinding ans a dab of bondo. I will soon find out with the long weekend approaching.

Good point about drainage holes...even more important on doors.

Thanks for the input...enjoyed reading it.

Keith
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