Removing the rusty metal — Drivers side
I started on the drivers side this past weekend. At some point a long time ago, the drivers side was repaired by someone. It looks like they used floorpan patch panels, or cut some out of a junk car. The front and rear of the floor pan had been patched, but the seat area was left alone. They cut some of the metal out, but not all of the rust. Then the patch panel was placed on top with some caulking and pop rivets. This fix seems to have worked for quite a while. Eventually those panels rusted out, as the metal was not painted before install, so any overlapping areas where bare metal.
I’m not a big fan of pop rivets for fixes like this. The pop rivets have a hole all the way through and will allow water to pass in and out. I’m pretty sure this is why the rear torque box on the drivers side is rusted out.
Removing the metal was pretty much the same as the passenger side. I used what is becoming my favorite tool the Plasma cutter to remove the seat pan, inner frame rail, both torque boxes, etc. Just like the passenger side, I found rust and rusted through holes.
As you can see in the picture the floor pan was completely rusted through under the seat pan. The only thing holding the drivers seat in place was the upper and lower seat pans. Scary. Any big bump, may have dropped the seat through, since the front and rear floor pan had been cut out and patch panels pop riveted in place.
When I tried to cut out the floor pans, I had two problems with the caulking, one it’s not conductive, so the plasma cutter would start and stop, and two its flammable. I wound up drilling out most of the pop rivets and prying the patch panels out.
The photo shows that the foot well area on the drivers side was rusted out. I ordered a patch panel since the foot well area is originally a part of the firewall, and I did not want to replace the whole firewall. This seems to be a common part as it is easier to cut this area out when replacing the front torque boxes.
Next I removed the front torque box. You can see in the photo it was full of rust, just like the passenger side. upon removing the torque box i discovered that the floor brace and the end section of the front frame rail had rusted through.
If you recall when removing the suspension the left front frame rail had rusted out. because of this I had already ordered a complete left front frame rail. I’m still tossed about patching it, or replaceing it.