Non-Cosmetic Roof Repair?

I've got this going on with my '98 'Burb: http://tinyurl.com/3h99ahh
Had been resigned to replacing the vehicle with a newer one, but keep coming back to the fact that it's probably going to cost me
$15,000-$18,000 (maybe less once we hit $5.00 per gallon gas, but still a significant outlay) and not get me anything more except a vehicle with an intact roof.
Took it to a couple of body shops and both advised against trying to fix it. Gotta give those opinions some respect bc they were turning away business.
But what about repairs where the user could care less how ugly it looks?
Is there any hope there?
--
PeteCresswell

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
(PeteCresswell) wrote:

That would be an EASY repair. The hardest part would be getting the rack off. First off get this kit. It will allow you to do the entire repair from the exterior without needing to pull the headliner and interior trim.
http://www.eastwood.com/ew-no-weld-panel-repair-kit.html (Instructions are online if you want to read them)
Visit your local body supply place and get some prep-sol and some wax/grease remover. A small tub of bondo, some primer and paint to match your vehicle. You will also need some bondo spreaders and some good sandpaper. You will also want some 1/8" aluminum countersunk rivets. 1/4" long will work fine.
Next you will need to remove the rack to get to the area. Wipe it down with wax/grease remover.
Now grind the paint off to bare metal at least 1" past any rust. Check the underside as well. ANY rust left behind will just make the repair a failure. DON'T let the metal get hot while you're grinding. Next you will cut the rotted steel out. A cheap metal nibbler from HF will do this easily. Make sure that you have bare steel at least an inch past the cut line. Next you want to wipe down as much of the panel underside with the prep-sol as you can get to. It will kill minor rust and help stop it from spreading. Flange the hole with the flanging tool. Drill and dimple the holes that you will use to rivet the new panel in with while fitting the panel. Then wipe down the patch panel and apply the adhesive, install the rivets and remove excess adhesive with a spreader. Let it harden and grind the patch area smooth and apply a THIN coat of bondo. Sand the bondo smooth and prime paint the area.
To install the rack you will want a new nutsert insert. You can get a cheap one at KF or just buy a couple from a place like fastenal. Drill the hole, install the insert. Now for the hard step. Apply a small dab of good sealer around ALL the rack attachments. Bolt the rack down and enjoy. Keep in mind that the rack will not be as solid at that spot as the factory mount, unless you install a reinforcing plate inside while you do the repair You will see this item when you cut out the rust. Usually nothing more than a section of steel that acts like a fender washer and spreads the load out. You could do the same thing with a section of 1/8" steel. Just drill and install the nut-sert through the steel before you bond it in place. Apply some seam sealer between the layers before you install the nut-sert to stop rust there.
The repair might take you a day to do. Total cost will be around 200 bucks if you have to buy everything.
--
Steve W.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Per Steve W.:

That was a problem last time I tried. GM used these el-cheapo bolts into even-cheaper clips - and they were rusted in place on that side. Got the other rack off, no prob and slathered everything in Never-Seize before reassembly.\
But Bondo? What about structural strength when the bow wave of an oncoming 18-wheeler tries to lift the racks and their contents off? Been there once crossing the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge tunnel in a Chrysler sedan with two windsurfers on the roof. Lifted the whole car to the limit of it's suspension.
--
PeteCresswell

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
(PeteCresswell) wrote:

The bondo is NOT the structural component. It is used as a skim coat to smooth out the seam and rivet heads.
The part that will hold the rack will be the new steel you use to repair the rotted area. If you use the kit I posted and install a reinforcement under the roof in the first place the repair will be as strong or stronger than the original roof.
The reason why I said to use the glue and rivet method is to eliminate the need to strip the interior down to eliminate the possibility of setting the interior on fire if you weld in the new patch. Plus the glue they include is the same stuff that they use to assemble many planes. Should be able to handle a small patch...
--
Steve W.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.