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At what point does frame rail rust become dangerous to the integrity of a Fiero? by Patrick
Started on: 03-24-2013 02:20 PM
Replies: 19
Last post by: Patrick on 03-26-2013 10:40 PM
Patrick
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Report this Post03-24-2013 02:20 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickDirect Link to This Post
I was at a friend's place looking over his recently purchased SBC '86 Fiero. I removed the inner fenders to have a look at the "hidden" areas. The driver's side was fine. The passenger side looked like this...



That's looking up towards the back of the car. It appears to be just the outer side of the frame rail box that's rusted (and a bit of the trunk sheet metal). This picture shows all the rust that is evident. The rust does not continue any further towards the front of the car. I hacked away with a large screwdriver and removed the crumbly metal. All remaining metal seems solid (including the other three sides of the frame rail box).

Is this still safe, or has the structural integrity already been compromised to the point of being unroadworthy?

If unsafe and/or weak, would welding a strip of metal over top of the rusty side of the frame rail be a satisfactory repair?

And for anyone who may have dealt with a similar situation, could a metal strip be welded onto the frame rail with the rear clip still in place (and with perhaps the rear bumper removed), or would the rear clip need to be removed for better access to the frame rail?

[This message has been edited by Patrick (edited 03-25-2013).]

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Gall757
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Report this Post03-24-2013 03:23 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Gall757Send a Private Message to Gall757Direct Link to This Post
If that were a stock Fiero I would say you could drive it carefully, but with a SBC Fiero I think it is unsafe. Check the thread by RWDPLZ on frame rail repair. Did that car come from Michigan?

//www.fiero.nl/forum/Forum2/HTML/121544.html

[This message has been edited by Gall757 (edited 03-24-2013).]

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TRiAD
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Report this Post03-24-2013 04:42 PM Click Here to See the Profile for TRiADSend a Private Message to TRiADDirect Link to This Post
If that gets hit from behind, you're in serious trouble.

Didn't I see purpose-made, weld-in rail replacement parts somewhere on here recently?

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Jeff Young
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Report this Post03-24-2013 05:22 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Jeff YoungSend a Private Message to Jeff YoungDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Gall757:

If that were a stock Fiero I would say you could drive it carefully, but with a SBC Fiero I think it is unsafe. Check the thread by RWDPLZ on frame rail repair. Did that car come from Michigan?

//www.fiero.nl/forum/Forum2/HTML/121544.html



That's more metal than a Michigan Fiero would have...
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tebailey
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Report this Post03-24-2013 07:37 PM Click Here to See the Profile for tebaileySend a Private Message to tebaileyDirect Link to This Post
Yup, most Michigan Fieros are just lumps of plastic and brown goo. Glad mine came from Oregon.
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ltlfrari
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Report this Post03-24-2013 08:07 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ltlfrariClick Here to visit ltlfrari's HomePageSend a Private Message to ltlfrariDirect Link to This Post
Do it right, do it once. Anything less is just a bodge job, worthy of the worst shade tree mechanics!
All that rusted metal needs to be removed and a new box section welded in, along with some of the sheet metal.
Take the rear clip off and do it right, you'll be much happier with it.

(Edit to correct typos caused by too much beer!)

------------------
Anything I might say is probably worth what you paid for it, so treat it accordingly!

Dave

www.ltlfrari.com

[This message has been edited by ltlfrari (edited 03-24-2013).]

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Patrick
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Report this Post03-25-2013 12:31 AM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Gall757:

If that were a stock Fiero I would say you could drive it carefully, but with a SBC Fiero I think it is unsafe.


The SBC in this Fiero is not a beast. It's a low-performance 305 "smog" engine from an '82 Camaro.

 
quote
Originally posted by Gall757:

Check the thread by RWDPLZ on frame rail repair. Did that car come from Michigan?


Thanks, that's an interesting thread. No, the car has lived all it's life in the Pacific north-west.

 
quote
Originally posted by TRiAD:

If that gets hit from behind, you're in serious trouble.


Good point, although the driver's side is just fine.

 
quote
Originally posted by ltlfrari:

Do it right, do it once. Anything less is just a bodge job, worthy of the worst shade tree mechanics!
All that rusted metal needs to be removed and a new box section welded in, along with some of the sheet metal.
Take the rear clip off and do it right, you'll be much happier with it.


I understand where you're coming from. Honest, I do. However...

This is no show car. It's an '86 SE in dire need of at least paint, if not body work. The only reason this Fiero is of any interest to salvage is because it has the SBC installed (with a 5-spd)... and it's a mickey-mouse homebrew installation at that.

IMO, this car is not worth much effort/money to save. I'm just interested in what might (or might not) be necessary to make this car roadworthy at this present time. I also don't have the facilities (or skills) to do extensive frame reconstruction.

I'm hoping a relatively simple repair can be done to get a few more years out of this car. In the diagram below, I've used green lines to better show the frame rail box, and I've used blue lines to represent a piece of angled metal (about 12 inches long) that could be welded onto the short section of frame rail where it's rusted. Granted, I'm no engineer, but I suspect this would strengthen the end of that frame rail enough. (As I stated in my first post, the picture shows all the rust on the frame rail. It goes no further towards the front.)

I know this isn't the "proper" way to deal with this situation, but seriously, would this type of repair be all that bad considering the relatively low value of this car? (A bit more about this Fiero is in This thread.)

[This message has been edited by Patrick (edited 03-25-2013).]

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Bloozberry
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Report this Post03-25-2013 06:08 AM Click Here to See the Profile for BloozberrySend a Private Message to BloozberryDirect Link to This Post
Structurally, aft of the integral strut tower brace on the trunk wall, the upper frame rail doesn't serve much purpose except to provide some rigidity to the rear crush zone. Note that the rear bumper is attached to the lower rail. I'd say you'd be OK with your proposed repair for a couple years.
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Report this Post03-25-2013 07:11 AM Click Here to See the Profile for FFIEROFREDSend a Private Message to FFIEROFREDDirect Link to This Post
1. stop the rust
2. repair it
3. keep a eye out for a better car for down the road.
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Patrick
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Report this Post03-25-2013 01:35 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Bloozberry:

I'd say you'd be OK with your proposed repair for a couple years.


Thanks Blooz, I was hoping that someone who knows a heck of a lot more than I do about Fiero frames would agree with my proposed repair.

In your opinion, would it be absolutely necessary to remove the rear clip in order to prepare this area of the frame rail for welding a chunk of metal onto it? Or would just removing the rear bumper give enough access to this location for the repair?

 
quote
Originally posted by FFIEROFRED:

1. stop the rust


What's the best method? Naval Jelly? Rust-Oleum?

[This message has been edited by Patrick (edited 03-25-2013).]

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Report this Post03-25-2013 02:02 PM Click Here to See the Profile for TRiADSend a Private Message to TRiADDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Patrick:

What's the best method? Naval Jelly? Rust-Oleum?



People used to swear by a product called POR-15.
http://www.por15.com/whatispor15.asp

It worked wonders for me, but that was a while back.
There may be something better out now?

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Report this Post03-25-2013 04:14 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Robertzep2Send a Private Message to Robertzep2Direct Link to This Post
Por 15 is great stuff, but it can't fix swiss cheese! Please replace the bad metal for your safety and other people on the road. You might want to look for a donor space frame. RWDPLZ has shown you the proper way to fix this.
//www.fiero.nl/forum/Forum2/HTML/121544.html

[This message has been edited by Robertzep2 (edited 03-25-2013).]

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Report this Post03-25-2013 04:35 PM Click Here to See the Profile for TRiADSend a Private Message to TRiADDirect Link to This Post
Absolutely, it won't repair existing holes.
It is good however for treating the area after the repair to stop any other rust already there, and stop new rust from forming. :

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Patrick
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Report this Post03-25-2013 06:59 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by TRiAD:

People used to swear by a product called POR-15.
http://www.por15.com/whatispor15.asp


Yeah, I think that stuff is pretty good for preventing future rust.

 
quote
Originally posted by Robertzep2:

Please replace the bad metal for your safety and other people on the road.

RWDPLZ has shown you the proper way to fix this.
//www.fiero.nl/forum/Forum2/HTML/121544.html


That's the second time in this thread that RWDPLZ's handiwork has been posted (and it's a great read), but seriously, the Fiero I'm dealing with does not compare any which way with the the basket-case rustbucket that RWDPLZ resurrected. He did a great job, but the situation he was facing was considerably worse than mine.

 
quote
Originally posted by RWDPLZ:

For those of you who don't know, almost two years ago. a combination of Michigan rust and a parking lot hit-and-run left me without a drivable Fiero.





The Fiero I'm inquiring about has a one foot section at the very back of just the passenger side frame rail that's rusted. That's all of it. It's too bad it has any, but it's not like the whole undercarriage is gone.

 
quote
Originally posted by Robertzep2:

You might want to look for a donor space frame.

[This message has been edited by Patrick (edited 03-25-2013).]

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Gall757
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Report this Post03-25-2013 07:36 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Gall757Send a Private Message to Gall757Direct Link to This Post
I think you have found your answer, Patrick. There are hundreds of fieros running around in the rust belt, and they are doing just fine...maybe a little more bend in the frame here and there, but nothing that will kill anybody, and they do look worse than your picture.
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Report this Post03-25-2013 08:16 PM Click Here to See the Profile for RWDPLZClick Here to visit RWDPLZ's HomePageSend a Private Message to RWDPLZDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Patrick:

the Fiero I'm dealing with does not compare any which way with the the basket-case rustbucket that RWDPLZ resurrected



I was about to be offended, but that's a pretty accurate description.
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Report this Post03-25-2013 08:47 PM Click Here to See the Profile for BloozberrySend a Private Message to BloozberryDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Patrick:
In your opinion, would it be absolutely necessary to remove the rear clip in order to prepare this area of the frame rail for welding a chunk of metal onto it? Or would just removing the rear bumper give enough access to this location for the repair?


I think you will have problems getting access to the upper side of the frame rail with a welder unless you remove the rear quarters. Not what you want to hear, I know, but because the rail juts out and back in again at the top will likely prevent you from being able to see what you're doing and from getting the welding tip up there. Depending on how much of an acrobat you are and how small your welding handle is, you might be able to do it, but I rather doubt it.

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Patrick
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Report this Post03-26-2013 09:22 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Gall757:

There are hundreds of fieros running around in the rust belt, and they are doing just fine... and they do look worse than your picture.


We'd all love our Fieros to be totally rust free, but the ugly reality is that these cars are almost 30 years old. Not too many perfect one's left.

 
quote
Originally posted by RWDPLZ:

I was about to be offended, but that's a pretty accurate description.


Heh heh, hey man... you've got my upmost respect for what you did with your poor Fiero!

 
quote
Originally posted by Bloozberry:

I think you will have problems getting access to the upper side of the frame rail with a welder unless you remove the rear quarters. Not what you want to hear, I know, but because the rail juts out and back in again at the top will likely prevent you from being able to see what you're doing and from getting the welding tip up there. Depending on how much of an acrobat you are and how small your welding handle is, you might be able to do it, but I rather doubt it.


Blooz, is there any flex to the rear clip? Could it be disconnected from the passenger side rear fender area and lifted slightly at the rear to gain enough access to the back end of the frame rail (while the clip is still attached to the roof area)?
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Report this Post03-26-2013 09:44 PM Click Here to See the Profile for BloozberrySend a Private Message to BloozberryDirect Link to This Post
It's pretty rigid but you might gain some room if you unbolted it completely including the ones along the roof and propped it up. Big job though since you'd also have to unstick part of the forward roof panel and risk cracking the A-pillars.
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Patrick
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Report this Post03-26-2013 10:40 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Bloozberry:

Big job though...


Yeah, for sure.

If/when this rust is attended to, I'll be sure to take some pictures and post them here.

Thank-you to everyone for their feedback.
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