1955 Chevy Hardtop Rocker Panel Repair - Rocker Rehab

Fixing a common rust spot on Tri-Five Chevys.

Patrick Hill May 2, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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Before you get excited, we're not talking about taking washed-up, constantly boozing musicians whose dependence on distilled spirits and narcotics will serve as our entertainment. We'll leave that to Fox. What we're talking about are rocker panels.

On an old car, where water collects, rust happens. By the mid-to-late '60s, GM had made the fantastic decision to start using galvanized steel for rocker panels and other parts of their cars. Galvanizing is the process where a piece of steel is dipped in a molten bath of zinc (somewhere around 860 degrees) then exposed to air. The pure zinc (Zn) reacts with oxygen (O2) to form zinc oxide (ZnO), which further reacts with carbon dioxide (CO2) to form zinc carbonate (ZnCO3). Zinc carbonate is usually a dull gray, fairly strong material that stops further corrosion in many circumstances, protecting the steel below from the elements. Galvanized steel can be identified by the crystallization pattern on the surface (often called "spangle").

Unfortunately for us, our '55 hardtop predates this wonderful decision by GM, which means anywhere that saw moisture constantly is rusted. Our beloved '55s have some common areas where they like to rust because water collects in various nooks and crannies of the body. Among these are the "eyebrows" of the front fenders, inside at the base of the kick panel vents, the front corner of the quarter panel just behind the doors (two-door models), and in the tail pan area.

Because this hardtop spent a major part of its life in the tropical climate of South Florida, it's got the usual rust issues. In our last installment, we installed a new tail pan piece and its related body mount/brace. Moving forward, we wanted to get the rocker area repaired before starting on the quarter-panel patch process. As you'll see, this made replacing the inner rocker much easier.

Once again Jim and Tommy Barber at Classic Automotive Restoration Specialists (CARS) were the wrenches on our project, and have been just as amused as we were to find some of the hidden things about our '55. So far we've found parts of two different '55s used in different repairs on the car and have clearly identified that the hardtop's been painted at least five different colors in its life.

Ok, I'm done babbling; let's get to the story!

Sources

Classic Automotive Restoration Specialists Inc.
Belews Creek, NC 27009
336-595-3900
www.classicautomotiverestoration.com
Danchuk
Santa Ana, CA 92705
800-648-9554
www.danchuk.com
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