ElectroClassic EV
Classic Cars Reborn into the Electric Future

Rocker Roll

My original black plastic scuff plates and inner carpet strip were worn, cracked, and generally pretty beaten up, so I replaced them with durable new aluminum versions that will make a great impression every time the doors open. To install, I removed the door weather strip so the upper rivet mounting holes were accessible, and the scuff plate could be pushed snug against the door pinchweld lip. There is a lot of chatter on the 914 forums about which type of rivets are original, and which are better.  A call to Auto Atlanta confirmed that Porsche originally used aluminum rivets for the scuff plates and rocker covers on some early 914 models, and then switched to white or black plastic rivets to allow easy removal of the covers for cleaning and maintenance. I don’t anticipate ever removing the scuff plates, so I used aluminum rivets which better match the finish. Once the top of the scuff plate was fastened in place, the weatherstrip could be replaced snugly over the pinchweld, covering the rivets.

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The inner carpet strip was installed next. To start, I peeled the carpet away from the rearmost part of the sill to find the first mounting screw hole, and then used a small jewelers screwdriver to poke a matching hole in the carpet. Using that hole as an anchor point, the strip can be laid on top of the carpet and used as a template to locate and punch through to the rest of the screw holes. They are marked in gold ink on the carpet above.

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The inner aluminum strip actually overlays the clasp of the weatherstripping, both holding it in place and protecting it from shoe traffic. It’s fastened in place with machine screws rather than rivets, and I used stainless to sidestep any future rust issues. The bottom edge of the outer scuff plate will be riveted in place after the rocker panel covers are installed.

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Rocker Panel Covers

Even though the original steel rocker panel covers were in great shape and had been soda-blasted and primed along with the rest of the car, I decided to replace them with fiberglass replicas to completely eliminate corrosion. I sold my original steel rocker covers to the guy that bought my steel wheels. You will soon see why I regretted that decision.

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A test fit over the rocker panels revealed the passenger side alignment was good, but the driver side needed some finesse with a file to enlarge the trailing side of the jack point hole by about a quarter inch, after which it cleared.  The image above shows the filed edges on the right side of the jacking hole.

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The fiberglass rocker covers came without mounting holes, and required some fitting and drilling. I used a jeweler screwdriver to scratch drilling spots in the fiberglass that aligned with the existing holes in the door sill. First I drilled the upper mounting holes, and then drilled the holes for the front and rear fender well mounting points.

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Unfortunately, with the cover’s upper edge flush against the door sill, the lower edge of the cover would not reach the three mounting holes on the underside of the rocker panel. The picture above and two immediately below show the misalignment of the cover’s template holes with the actual mounting holes on the car.  This was true for all three holes on both sides.

No matter how much force I applied, the fiberglass would not flex enough to cover the lower holes. Even if I drew the upper edge away from the door sill, there was still not enough play to cover the lower holes, and the shortfall was merely transferred to the top. If you notice in all three pictures, the bottom edge of the rocker panel cover is not even touching the car. Disappointing and frustrating.

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After mucking with them a while longer, I discovered the inside surface of the covers were contacting the three vertical braces on each rocker panel, preventing them from falling completely home. Grinding away a portion of the braces was unacceptable, like removing toes to make the glass slipper fit. The aftermarket fiberglass valances weren’t this much trouble! I expected some minor finessing – not a disappointing hassle with no positive outcome.

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Rather than waste more time and money, my solution was to return to stock original covers and use other methods to seal and protect them. I was able to pick up a couple online for about the same amount I sold mine for, although they still needed stripping and refinishing. In the meantime, a cursory test fit proved my sanity. They seated perfectly, and all the holes lined up.

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The used rocker panel covers had a fair amount of surface rust, so I took them to Safe-Way in Culver City to have them sandblasted. Unlike baking soda, sand will leave microscopic pits in the metal. But since these covers are mounted low on the car and are generally painted flat black, their finish is less critical. Besides, I wasn’t driving way out to Upland just to have these two covers soda-blasted.  Safe-Way was nearby, and this was a great opportunity to lose my sandblasting virginity.

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Here’s what they looked like when they came back.  The surface is dull and has a texture similar to 800 grade emery cloth. Although the rust was completely gone, it had left rough areas where it had chewed at the surface. I hit those patches first with a couple coats of Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer.

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In order to take the tooth down on the entire outer surface, I applied a couple coats of etching primer and sanded lightly to a smooth finish. Then I applied a few coats of satin black to the outer surface of the covers, and some rubberized undercoating on the inside.

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One issue that evaded bodywork was this hole in the driver side rocker panel, just behind the front fender well. I could take it back to Manny and insist he fix it, or I could take it to a nearby body shop.  Either way, the whole car would need to be towed, and I didn’t want to upend my workspace and workflow. So I decided to patch it myself, as I have done many times before. It was a minor hole on a surface that is exposed on both sides, so I decided fiberglass would be fine if it were properly sealed when done. First I masked and sprayed rust reformer and undercoating inside the hole from all angles, being careful not to clog the drain port where the rocker panel meets the floor pan. When dry, I ground the outside of the hole down to bare metal at a half-inch radius.

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Then I prepared a fiberglass patch that perfectly covered the entire bare metal area, mixed a small amount of resin and applied it over the hole. After curing, I shot some Rust Reformer onto the backside of the fiberglass patch through the adjacent drain port using one of those skinny red plastic hoses. After drying, I followed it with a couple blasts of rubberized undercoating directly into the drain port.

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And viola – rocker covers completely installed and fitting perfectly without any further hassle.  I especially regret selling my original covers, since I usually retain all the original parts until the new ones are installed and working. My opinion of replacement fiberglass body parts has tilted toward greater suspicion. They are not subject to factory standards, and will require a fair amount of noodling and fudging to make them fit (if at all).

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3 Responses to “Rocker Roll”

  1. Mark, please send me your email address. Thanks! We met at Home Depot yesterday (we’ve got the LEAF). Cheers.

  2. Good work, Mark. Soon you will be EV-PVing!

    • I have paid for and will be picking up my HPEV AC50 motor this week. Also dropping the tranny off at Motor Meister in Downey for a checkup before mating to the motor. It’s starting to get funner.


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