Inner Rocker Panels repairs

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z010121
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2015 1:18 pm

Inner Rocker Panels repairs

Post by z010121 » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:10 am

Hello all,

I am working on repairing my father's 1965 convertible.
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I have been slowly working on it and have decided to paint it for him as well.
As I started disassembly, I have been repairing small areas of rust by cutting it out and patching it.

Once the fenders came off, I saw how bad the inner rocker panels might be. So I took the outer rocker panels off and found that the inner rockers are a bit of a mess. I plan to try to fabricate replacements for this since it does not seem that anyone makes them. Does anyone know if the rocker panels are 14 gauge steel or 16 gauge?


This is the only thing I can find to show what they should look like. Does anyone have any photos that they can share with the outer rocker panel off?


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And here is what I think I need to replace.

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Below is a bunch of pictures

Driver side:

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Passenger side

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Thanks,
KO

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Alan H. Tast
Posts: 2823
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 10:52 pm
Location: Omaha, NE

Re: Inner Rocker Panels repairs

Post by Alan H. Tast » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:55 am

That is a major case of hidden structural rot - it's a good thing you caught it when you did. You're probably lucky the car hasn't folded in on itself because of how the center transmission tunnel serves as a very rigid 'spine' for the body, especially a convertible. Pay attention to how the sections you referenced show how the pieces overlap and are welded together to form a box beam - convertibles have to have a stiffer rocker/outer lower body to counter the lack of a rigid roof to hold everything together.

You may be better served by fabricating the whole inner and outer rocker pieces, along with the reinforcing pieces that run the length of the rockers, and weld them together. The profiles look easy enough for a fabricator to make out of heavier sheet metal. I personally would not just patch things together. This means also properly bracing and supporting the body shell so that it doesn't twist or bend before and while replacing the metal.

If the driver's side is bad, chances are the passenger side is, too, but only repair one side at a time.
Alan H. Tast, AIA
Technical Director/Past President,
Vintage Thunderbird Club Int'l.
Author, "Thunderbird 1955-1966" & "Thunderbird 50 Years"
1963 Hardtop & 1963 Sports Roadster

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sseebart
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Location: Northern California
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Re: Inner Rocker Panels repairs

Post by sseebart » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:20 am

Alan, is this part of the structure often called the "torque tube"?

~Steve

jtschug
Posts: 456
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2015 1:33 pm

Re: Inner Rocker Panels repairs

Post by jtschug » Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:45 pm

I would love to share before and after pictures of my car with the exact same issue but I can't figure out how to share images.

Here are the before and after pictures:

https://imgur.com/a/gqFT2An

It looked fine from the outside, but the inner rocker was rotten from the weld flange to the outer rocker. So I removed the outer rocker and found the lower couple inches of inner rocker completely gone, as you can see in the pictures. It appears that at some point the outer rocker was repaired, and the body shop filled the drain holes with bondo, and it filled with water which ate it from the inside out.

The inner is pretty heavy gauge which I measured and had a piece of steel bent to shape to weld in place. I was about to start working on it, but got very busy at work and it ended up sitting for a couple years. Eventually I sent it to a guy who is very good with old T-birds. He didn't like my plan and got a complete rocker assembly from Desert Valley Autoparts, then the carefully cut it apart layer by layer, and welded it back in layer by layer. You can see in the picture he made sure the car was straight, then welded a brace across the door opening so that it wouldn't move during the process.

It came out perfect, I'm not sure my plan would have worked, as I didn't have a rack to get the car perfectly straight before welding, but structurally, I think it could be done. I may still have the piece of steel I had bent somewhere...

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Alan H. Tast
Posts: 2823
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 10:52 pm
Location: Omaha, NE

Re: Inner Rocker Panels repairs

Post by Alan H. Tast » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:47 pm

sseebart wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:20 am
Alan, is this part of the structure often called the "torque tube"?

~Steve
"Torque tube" is a term used with Model T/A/Early V8 Fords (I have owned a '40 Tudor sedan in pieces since I graduated from high school in 1979 - call it my "retirement" project) for the tube which encases the closed driveshaft used from the days of the Model "T" through 1948 (open driveshafts on Fords first appeared in 1949). You may be thinking of "torque boxes" which are at the firewall/cowl/floorboard area. The convertible bodies typically had more/thicker sheet metal in them in part to resist twisting/bending, along with the reinforcement panel spanning between the wheel wells behind the rear seat uprights.
Alan H. Tast, AIA
Technical Director/Past President,
Vintage Thunderbird Club Int'l.
Author, "Thunderbird 1955-1966" & "Thunderbird 50 Years"
1963 Hardtop & 1963 Sports Roadster

z010121
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2015 1:18 pm

Re: Inner Rocker Panels repairs

Post by z010121 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:39 pm

I found a donor car in a 1964 Tbird.
I will start disassembly in a week or two.
The body and rockers look really solid.

KO

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