How Do I fix a Warped Fiberglass Rocker Panel?

Eleanor

New Member
Hi, I was wondering if anyone could help me out here. I have a body kit rocker panel moulding that is warped along the top edge ... probably the whole thing. It's like the top part of that moulding that goes against the rocker is warped pretty much opposite of the rocker. The actual car rocker panel does have a bow out from back to front. The back part of the rocker moulding has a 90 degree angle on it that slides up into the back wheel fender flair moulding so it has to be solid from there forwards to the front.

Anyway, is there a way to fix this by heating it or do I need to cut it somehow and release the tension and rebond? If so could someone please give me advise on how to do this properly? I posted some pics earlier on another thread but here are some more. I would need to know what products to use as well as proper tools etc for doing this job which the body shop should have done in the first place correctly. Anyhow, any help would sure be appreciated. Thankyou.
 

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texasking

Promoted Users
I am far from a fiberglass expert, but if I was going to fix it, I would take a cutoff wheel and slice it along the flat part of the horizontal kickout end to end, then temporarily attach the top edge with small pieces of double sided tape. This would leave a gap on the flatter part that would be easier to repair, and hopefully take the tension off the top so it would lay flat. If not, it may take some vertical slices along the upper part. This is not something that would be easy for someone experienced, much less a novice. It should have been pointed out by the body shop, but would you have wanted to pay them $1000 or more (conservative estimate) to make them fit? My guess is that is the reason they were just painted and not installed. Aftermarket fiberglass parts rarely fit, even decent, and can be a nightmare to fix.
 

Eleanor

New Member
Thanks texasking for your input here. The original body shop actually epoxied studs to the upper part of the moulding just below where it meets up with the top part of the rocker panel. Three of them front to back. Since there was some outward tension which increased from back to front of the moulding the epoxied studs just broke out of fiberglass moulding. That was with the car just idling ... had never had it on the road yet. Moved to a different province about four years ago so can't really haul the car back 500 miles and then I probably now wouldn't trust them anymore anyway if they are still around. I didn't know it was as bad as it was until it broke off. There was always about an 1/8" gap close to the front of the panel going back about maybe two inches but being black I never really worried about it as it's just so hard to see or was. I now realize when fitting it up there that there is a lot of tension away from the car at the front. I would have thought the body shop would have, if they were half decent, told me the issue and asked how to proceed. The cost wouldn't have been an issue then at the time if the job would have been done correctly.
I don't have a real problem cutting this thing and rebonding it if I knew how where and how to cut it. I've done a fair bit of metal repairs but never fiberglass ones so that's why I'm asking around for some guidance. But that said you are definitely correct in that I would be a novice with this. I don't mind learning though.
 

texasking

Promoted Users
Don't mean to discourage you, just want you to know what you are getting into. Going by pictures is not my strong suit. It would be much easier to decide what to do hands on. I assume the bottom screws to the brackets? Will they fit better with the bottom unattached, or does it matter? The where to cut it is an educated guess. It is hard to tell where the tension is created from a picture, for me, or if it is just the top edge not molded to the correct contour. If it is just the top edge, slits cut with a cutoff wheel, or even a hacksaw, from the top edge down every inch or so about an inch long might make it flexible enough to lay down. The trick will be getting it to stay there to reglass it. You could make a form out of a 1x2 cut and sanded to fit the contour where the moulding will lay. Make your cuts, sand both sides with 80# to bare glass, lay a couple layers of glass mat the width and length of your slits, and clamp it to the form before the resin dries. Let it dry overnight, remove the clamps, and check your fit. If the fit is satisfactory, then it will just be sanding and filling to get it smooth.
 

Eleanor

New Member
Thanks texasking for the reply. I certainly get it about it being pretty hard just going from pictures. On top of that I'm probably not the greatest communicator either. You are correct in that the bottom attaches to the "L" bracket underneath. To me (uneducated guess here) it feels like when I attach the very back corner (push it up in behind the rear wheel well flare moulding and not attaching the underneath) and start coming forward at about the 1/2 way mark the rocker moulding starts coming away from the car. That is I have no pressure to put it into place. Then moving forward to the front to make it come towards the car I need to torque the panel up at the bottom (so the bottom of the moulding matches the bottom of the front wheel well flare) and the top towards the car. Not hard but hard enough that it wouldn't come close without doing so. That said I then think it's not just the top part that's out of kilter so to speak. I understand exactly what you are saying as far as making a 1x2 and making it into the exact same curve as the car rocker panel ... and that makes perfect sense to me. I believe that's what I'll try as soon as I get some time and courage to do just that. Thanks for your input ... very much appreciated.
 

texasking

Promoted Users
Sounds like the moulding may be too long at the rear flange, and forcing it to meet up with the wheelwell is causing the top to bow out, correct? Anytime you have to force those type of parts to mate, it is going to make it flex somewhere else, so the key is to make it fit without any tension. Holding or taping the top edge flush may give you a better idea of where it needs to be modified.
 
My suggestion from the other thread was to space the molding away from the car to where it looks as straight as you want to see it. The closest area will be touching the rocker, then spacers where it is farther away from the rocker. At that time you can take a pair of dividers and run one side against the rocker and the other side to mark the top of the fiberglass part. (either tape across the top and use a pencil or use a sharpie) That will give you an idea of how far you have to go to make it straight again. That is the only way you are going to relieve the "spring" the rocker has that will not keep it adhered and flat.

Once you get that line marked on the fiberglass part, if you post another picture here, the experts can probably help you. The fastest way is probably going to be to simply sand back to the line so it lays flat and you can use that tape you wanted to use. If you grind back that line and it still makes contact on the bottom or any inside brace, you will see that when it gets closer. It will also show if you have to remove so much that its going to ruin how the fiberglass looks.

At least you verified that the installation of the rocker panel is bowed, which was what I expected.
 
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