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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Rust Repair Questions

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5 replies to this topic

#1 Coyote Paws

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 08:55 PM

I just picked up an 84' Hatchback from Pennsylvania and while the majority of the body is pretty clean, it does have some pretty serious rust along the rockers. I would really like to repair this as the car itself is pretty nice (nice interior, un-cracked dash, 127k miles).

I will put up a members ride thread soon once I start working on it, but for now I'd like to hear some opinions on the rust and get a bit of information. Here are some photos. You can click on the photo to see a larger one.

Drivers Rocker

Drivers Front

Drivers Rear

Passenger Rocker

Passenger Front

Passenger Rear

Frame Rail - Drivers Front

Frame Rail - Drivers Engine Bay

Frame Rail - Passenger Front

Frame Rail - Passenger Engine Bay

If you'd like to see any other areas, just let me know and I'll take more photos. But apart from a few small spots, frame rails look pretty good. The majority of the rust is around the rockers. Opinions on the fix-ability of this? Anyone done something similar?

How much structural integrity is in the rockers? As you can see in the photos, most of the rocker is completely gone as well part of the floor next to the rocker (you can actually see the carpet through the holes), so I'm going to have to fabricate that entire area. Would it be fine to just cut out and replace the floor section, and then weld on a new rocker directly to the new floor, or should I attempt to recreate the pinch weld? And is there any support/cross sections I should be putting inside the rocker so there's enough support for a jack.

The sections I'm most concerned about is the support that connects the frame rail to the rocker at the front. What gauge of steel should I use there? I'm thinking 20 for the rockers and floor. And I know this is a long shot, but is there anywhere that sells body panels for these? The floor shouldn't be much of a hassle to fix, but the idea of fabricating a new rocker panel doesn't sound very fun.

Thanks for any help ^^ I'm really hoping I can fix this up and give it many more years. I have plans to move out of the salt belt within the year or so to somewhere in the midwest. So if I can fix it's current rust abuse, it should last.

Here's the car itself.

Edited by Coyote Paws, 10 May 2013 - 08:56 PM.

#2 MilesFox


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Posted 10 May 2013 - 09:26 PM

If you look at your first picture, the channel inside the rocker is the structure. the picn weld ties it to the floor. the rest of the structure of the car is the roof line and the door frames. Your car is not too far gone to repair.


If anyone tells you to get a car from out west instead of fixing this one, tell them that any car from out west will start to rust if the same measures were not taken.


you will be into a project depending on how tedious you want to be, such as removing suspensions and body parts to get at it all. 


Ideally you want to seal up and prevent the existing rust frm getting worse, which a little bit os ok vs chopping and welding if you can stop its advancement.


you are going to want to remove as much flake, scale, and any of the 'rustproofing' undercoating that has rust behind it. sometimes these applications trap moisture can cause more rust than they prevent. 


make it a rule to keep the car clean and dry and avoid road salts.


By my standards of experience with subarus from the rust belt, yours is fairly rust-free.

#3 mikaleda


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Posted 11 May 2013 - 10:11 AM

I wouldn't worry about structure, my 80 is 5 times as bad as what you have in the same areas and its still holding together

#4 Coyote Paws

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:29 PM

Thanks for the replies. Great to get some opinions on in, especially about the structural issues.

From what I've poked at, the rust is pretty flaky and I probably can't sand and cover it. The parts on the frame I might be able to grind out though. I haven't welded anything before so it will be a good learning experience and a good excuse too, been wanting to learn for a while. The car is my daily driver, so I'll have to tackle one section at a time as I have the time. Definitely want to get the rockers and frame patched up first.

#5 djellum


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Posted 16 May 2013 - 12:10 AM

get a gallon or so of metal prep from a supply store, might have to order online.  its a clear liquid that stops the oxidation process and helps keep rust from coming back.  you cant just throw it on like magic in heavy rust areas though.  wire wheel or sand the rust till you cant see anymore of it, then use the metal prep on it just to make sure the small bits of oxidation in the surface pockets of the metal are taken care of, then paint over.  that 3 step will save what you can, cut and weld replacements where things are too far gone.


you can undercoat if you want, but I would do it as a 4th step, still sand, prep, and paint before applying it.

#6 thealleyboy


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Posted 20 May 2013 - 12:41 PM

There are two aspects to consider when you take on a rust repair project - safety and appearance. When it comes to daily driver type Subes, safety is by far the most important. My "acid test" is to inspect the area where the seat belt anchors to the floor. If the metal here is weak, your car is done. Reason being, a good hit will rip that seat belt out of the floor, and send whoever is strapped to it thru the winshield.  


Fortunately, alot of the rust you see on the Subes falls into the "appearance" category. This includes rockers and rear wheel arches on the unibody, as well as any bolt-ons  {doors, fenders hoods, etc}. All easy stuff. Mills Supply in Cleveand sells replacement rocker and rear wheel arch panels that will rebuild most of the rear quarter panel area. The most difiicult area to repair is the rear corners {below the rear tail lights}. It is prone to rot, and difficult to fabricate patch panels from scratch. 


I would carefully evaluate the structural points, and this will require lifting interior carpeting and removing plastic trim. In many cases you cannot judge the condition visually from underneath the car.  Do this before getting too far ahead of yourself with appearance rust.   Good Luck, John   

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