I've got this going on with my '98 'Burb:
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
Is there any hope there?
That would be an EASY repair. The hardest part would be getting the rack
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.
(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
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.
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.
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...
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