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I have both a 2001 and 1999 XJ (4DR, manual, 4.0L engine). The rocker panels on the driver's side of both cars are rusted through--common problem, I think--and I'm plotting a repair. It's not something I can do myself (don't know how to weld), and I'm willing to spend some money to get this done right. I see a wide variety of 3rd-party solutions to this problem, and wonder what the readers of this board might recommend who've actually done it. Thanks.

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stevecherokee...Let's trust that other members will jump into this discussion.  Our 1999 4-door XJ Cherokee is a Reno Area vehicle that's still rust free.  However, the State of Nevada has recently shifted to cost-conscious salt brine ("...NDOT utilizes a brine solution of salt and water, as well as other anti-icing agents...") as a de-icing tool.  In the snowy parts of Nevada, we should be catching up to the Rust Belt's sheet metal damage at some point.  This is most unfortunate, as the entire State of Nevada is high desert with very low humidity.  Traditionally, with the use of sand and non-saline de-icing agents, vehicles never suffered rust perforation or exfoliation at Nevada!

That said, the Jeep XJ Cherokee is a unitized body, and the chassis is basically heavy sheet metal.  Make sure your rocker panel damage is not extending into the belly pan/chassis metal.  You need to stop the spread of rust, and materials like POR-15 claim to do this.  There is much controversy about the various fixes, so let's see where this discussion goes...

Moses

 

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There's always the new automotive adhesives. 3M makes a panel bonding adhesive, and I have seen a technician using it. He says the surrounding metal will tear before the bond will. It could be an option for you, but I would suggest you buy a Harbor Freight 90 Amp wire feed welder and learn how to weld. It's a "cheap" way to learn and there has to be a good video on Youtube to show you some decent technique. Your grand total will probably come to no more than $200.00 to $300.00 and that's less than you can buy the welder alone from most other sources. I suggest you get a decent auto-darkening welding helmet from Harbor Freight as well.

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Good suggestions, BadDriver4x4...Agreed on the HF welding helmet for a cost effective auto-darkening type.  Always consider the darkening speed.  1/25,000th of a second is an industry standard that will help avoid flash spots.  Speed affects the distance UV travels toward the eyes.  The upscale HF helmet is 1/25,000th of a second type.  They have an entry level helmet that is 1/20,000th second.  Here is the 1/25,000th second version:

http://www.harborfreight.com/Auto-Darkening-Welding-Helmet-with-Racing-Stripe-Design-67854.html

I've used these HF helmets for years.  The worn out shells with a good light panel make an excellent platform for filming HD video how-to welding projects.

As for sheet metal welding, wire feed is ample at the amperage you describe, though there is a learning curve if not proficient at welding.  Are you advising gas MIG or is this a flux-core (only) welder?

Moses

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Moses,

I was thinking of the flux-core only. The wire is more expensive, but fooling with the MIG gas bottle and the extra settings will not be as easy as just fooling around with spool speeds and power levels (2) and trying to copy a good weld on some scrap you got at the dump, or a junk yard. (Or out of a dumpster) What people new to welding should know is that flux-core is more useful in windy situations because the shielding gas is part of the welding wire and isn't blown away from the project as easily as the gases coming from the MIG feed handle. For those who don't have have shops and have to improvise a work area outdoors on nice days I think the inexpensive HF welder will be a real asset.

Check the welding forum for great ideas as well.

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Great input, BadDriver4x4!  Comment about flux-core and wind is very apt.  The slightest breeze can wreak havoc with a MIG gas shield.  Wire flux-core, within its use limits, is much like SMAW/stick electrode welding but with all of the advantages of a spooling wire.  No need to stop and start welds to change stick electrodes!

Thanks for helping stevecherokee with the weldor's learning curve...

Moses

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