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MetroMPG 11-09-2016 07:13 PM

2004 Toyota Echo rust repair - rocker panels - pics!
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This summer, I picked up this $1k Echo to use as Winter Beater 2016/2017.

The car's biggest problem is rust in the rear rocker panels. The car actually looks OK from normal standing human eyeball height, but from squirrel eyeball height, it's pretty nasty... and/or an enticing place to hide beech nuts!

Time to get out the cutting discs and find out how far away good metal is!

Pretty far away. :( That pretty much tripled the size of the hole.

Above: this is a bit more than just a cosmetic repair. (I knew that when I got the car.)

The rear trailing axle is bolted to the unibody in a sort of 3-sided box, one side of which used to be made up of the rocker structure.

I used heavier gauge metal than original to rebuild that corner.

Above: looking up from underneath. Don't laugh at my welds here. I went back and made it (somewhat) better.

Above: the rocker has ... had! ... 4 layers. 1 outside, 2 sandwiched reinforcing layers, and 1 inner (axle attachment side).

I could only rebuild one of the 2 sandwich layers. Saving both would have required me to open the side of the car up much higher.

Above: spot welded a bunch of puzzle pieces together to approximate the shape of the rocker, the lower flare of the wheel arch, and wheel arch lip.

Just today: I ground things smooth, and epoxied over the seams of the puzzle pieces to seal it up tight.

All that took me the better part of a week, spending an hour or so most evenings.

Next up, rebuild the other side!

Then body filler, paint, undercoating & rustproofing.

vskid3 11-09-2016 07:22 PM

Wouldn't life be easier if you'd just kept the Insight? ;) Nice work.

MetroMPG 11-09-2016 08:27 PM

Ha! The steel bits were starting to rust on the Insight too! :D

Fasteners, fuel/brake lines (see Tim's recent Insight drama). I never even got a chance to inspect its spark plugs because the coil pack bolt heads were a corroded mess.

No joke: the last Insight to disappear from this neck of the woods actually had bubbling in the aluminum door skins & rear fenders. Even AL will corrode given enough time and horrendous conditions!

vskid3 11-10-2016 11:37 AM

I've heard Arizona is nice this time of year, and they don't have to worry about their cars dissolving before their eyes.

How much salt to they smother the roads with in the Northeast? Cars in Northern Utah definitely get rusty, but usually nothing like what I've seen out of the NE. Maybe our winters just aren't as bad. Glad my Prius spent most of its first ~11 years in Texas, the rest of the car should be pretty well shot by the time rust becomes an issue.

MetroMPG 11-10-2016 03:50 PM


How much salt to they smother the roads with in the Northeast
I dunno, but around here, 12+ year-old cars typically die of rust, not mechanical issues.

I'd be surprised if the auto industry didn't fund the road salt lobby, if there is a road salt lobby.

MetroMPG 11-11-2016 09:29 AM

B side
Got a good start on side two last night ... the B side?

It's not as bad as the driver's side, but that's typical. More road salt & grit in the center of the road than the sides, I guess.

Safety first!

And so far on this job I have only set my clothes on fire once while welding! That's one way to stay warm sitting on the floor of an unheated garage in November.

MetroMPG 11-17-2016 12:34 PM

B side welding done!
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Just in time, too. Forecast says winter arrives next week.

Saturday looks like the last of the mild weather - a.k.a. bondo weather!

MetroMPG 11-24-2016 09:03 AM

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The paint isn't a perfect match - my parts store doesn't carry that hue. So I eyeballed what was available on the shelf and got some GM blue that's just a hair darker.

The car is now at the mechanic getting inspected & e-tested.

Xist 11-24-2016 11:41 AM

Perfect is the enemy of what? :D

Happy American holiday, neighbor! :)

MetroMPG 11-24-2016 11:44 AM

Happy turkey day to you too!

We feasted a while ago.

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