Repair Rusted Rocker Panels Without Welding

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Any ideas how I might be able to repair these rusted rocker panels on my 98 Expedition without welding? I have a small welder, but not much experience with it. I do have some experience with fiberglass and epoxy work, but this is pretty extensive. [Linked Image] [Linked Image]
 
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Repair or cover up? Nothing short of cutting out the rusted sections and welding in new metal will be a repair. If you just want it to look OK, try some wide rubber molding like they use for running boards, or some wide chrome dress-up tape.
 
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Yes, clean it out the best you can and spray in some TOUGH STUFF FOAM. There are Youtube videos on this method and I can attest that it works quite well. After the Tough Stuff cures(1 day or sooner) then you can shave/sand it down and bondo it.
 
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Gawd, no foam! It traps water. Cut back a little bit to clean metal, then rivet some "tin" over it. Use vise grips or whatever to bend a little flange inward on the existing part so the new metal will be flush. Cover with bondo, paint. You are lucky to have that plastic-rubber trim over the top of it, so whatever you do behind it doesn't have to look great.
 
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Cut the complete rocker off front to back. Leave it open and spray it with black truck bed liner. Done. I'll bet you can't see it anyway from the side. Have you ever noticed that once a sealed rocker, cab corner etc stops rusting once it's open to air? It now dries out. If it ain''t holding water........it ain't rusting through. Just me.....
 
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Originally Posted by eljefino
Gawd, no foam! It traps water.
That may be true, but whether the foam repairs actually accelerate corrosion is another matter entirely. I've used foam and it holds up for about 2 years without much issue. Once that level of rust has started, there "ain't" no stoppin' it. I'd argue that the foam actually corrodes less than pop riveted plates on top of the holes. The foam method is a great way to pass inspection and have something that looks normal.
 
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Originally Posted by Cujet
Originally Posted by eljefino
Gawd, no foam! It traps water.
That may be true, but whether the foam repairs actually accelerate corrosion is another matter entirely. I've used foam and it holds up for about 2 years without much issue. Once that level of rust has started, there "ain't" no stoppin' it. I'd argue that the foam actually corrodes less than pop riveted plates on top of the holes. The foam method is a great way to pass inspection and have something that looks normal.
Closed cell foam does not absorb water like open cell. If you are going to foam it get window and door, it has less expanding force. OP if you have the welder, do it, it's mostly spot welds IIRC. It's a twenty year old car: no pressure and you will learn a thing or two!
 
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You can repair it with fiberglass + bondo along with some sort of support layer, but these repairs never last because the rust will find a way back eventually even if you spray an anti-rust coating on it.
 
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Rock auto has slip on rocker panels. I think you can cut the rust out and weld these in. I think you said you had a small welder. This should not take a big welder to do. rocker panel [color:#FFFF00]EDIT : After looking at your pics again, with the running board and all that that you would need to remove, and due to rust probably not easy to remove. I'd forget the slip on covers. I would foam the holes , bondo it and paint it , either with matching color or bedliner spray.[/color]
 
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Fitz98

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Vehicle is a Florida vehicle for 10+ years, with 1 winter in NY, Connecticut vehicle prior to that. It is amazing how rust can continue to thrive, even after being taken out of its corrosive environment. I like the idea of the slip on panels. I haven't seen those before. I have been getting a lot of fiberglass and epoxy experience on my boat, so maybe I could epoxy or tack weld these in place after cutting all the rust out. The idea of foam after cutting out the rust is a good base as well to fiberglass over, but holding moisture could be an issue, as mentioned, causing bigger problems down the road. I plan to keep the vehicle for a while, so a better than good repair is what I am looking to do. Some great ideas, thanks.
 
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Eh, 99% of the trucks over 5 years old look like that around here. They still last many years until its "too bad." I keep my treated with fluid film in those areas and so far so good.
 
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Originally Posted by oldhp
Cut the complete rocker off front to back. Leave it open and spray it with black truck bed liner. Done. I'll bet you can't see it anyway from the side.
You could most definitely see that area from the side if it were cut off (so a big gaping hole with rust colored metal behind it), and it is a structural member of the cab so this is not a good result. Odds are fair that the floor pan next to the area would eventually buckle without that there or if rusted too, may crack apart instead of buckling. Your best bet is do it right, as much of it yourself as possible. If you have to pay someone to weld it, do that. Now as far as finishing and painting goes, that might not be too noticeable from a DIY rattle can job. It all depends on how far the hidden rust has spread. There's a fair but still small chance that you just have the one area and can just replace what is there with some sheet steel if the bends aren't too complex. It may not look perfect but has to form fit very well, then you could rivet it on to hold it after joining with 3M body panel adhesive. That adhesive is essentially a special epoxy and quite pricey for what it is, though for a limited one-off use you don't necessarily need to buy the applicator, just to mix it before application, but you're going to need a lot of force to get it out of the tube, especially if it's cold. https://www.amazon.com/3M-08115-Panel-Bonding-Adhesive/dp/B000PEW4MI If you just want some quick and easy fix that lasts short term, grind away any loose bubbly rust, throw a piece of metal mesh behind it, slap some bondo fiberglass resin in the area, sand and paint. It wouldn't hurt to spray some fluid film (or anything greasy, really) behind that area after completed.
 
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Originally Posted by Fitz98
Vehicle is a Florida vehicle for 10+ years, with 1 winter in NY, Connecticut vehicle prior to that. It is amazing how rust can continue to thrive, even after being taken out of its corrosive environment. I like the idea of the slip on panels. I haven't seen those before. I have been getting a lot of fiberglass and epoxy experience on my boat, so maybe I could epoxy or tack weld these in place after cutting all the rust out. The idea of foam after cutting out the rust is a good base as well to fiberglass over, but holding moisture could be an issue, as mentioned, causing bigger problems down the road. I plan to keep the vehicle for a while, so a better than good repair is what I am looking to do. Some great ideas, thanks.
You would have to weld or rivet those in. My fear after suggesting that, is that there will be a whole lot more work( aka rust issues with broken bolts etc) removing ( and reinstalling) the running boards to install the slip on panels. I would probably just foam and bondo all the holes and spray bedliner over it. Looks like there are multiple holes.
 
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I just saw your comment about having a boat. Do you use this to put it in the water( saltwater?) ? If so, nothing is going to really fix this. IF the back of the rocker has been in the salt water, then salt water has been all up and down the length of the rocker panel and it will rust out no matter what you do.
 
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Joined
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Originally Posted by spasm3
I just saw your comment about having a boat. Do you use this to put it in the water( saltwater?) ? If so, nothing is going to really fix this. IF the back of the rocker has been in the salt water, then salt water has been all up and down the length of the rocker panel and it will rust out no matter what you do.
He better not be putting any of the truck body in the water or something is really wrong. Like maybe the tailgate has an outboard motor on it...lol
 
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