Rocker panel dent removal

Before I brought home the Fiat 500, I had already forgotten about the dent in the rocker panel on the passenger’s side. It looks like someone drove up against a curb or something and it runs almost the entire length of the panel. In their defence, the rocker panel is very short so almost every dent would run the entire length of it.

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1970 Fiat 500 – Rocker panel dent removal

I found out that all the affordable slide hammers require making holes in and around the dent. These holes will need to be large enough for either a hook to be put through or a screw to be threaded through. The rocker panel on my Fiat is still in great condition, so I was really looking for an option that didn’t include drilling holes in it.

“With budget dent repair version 2.0 I got rid of the steel wire.”

After calling around for a little bit I got the tip to weld a bunch of loops made of steel wire all over the place and hook into the loops instead of holes. So I first ground down the panel to bare metal and cut a whole bunch of steel wire pieces to make little loops.

I welded the loops to the rocker panel, which already proved to be challenging enough. The steel wire often melted before it was actually attached to the panel. The photo shows how it ended up nog being very pretty. I then started pulling on the loops with the slide hammer that I ordered. This simply pulled off the loops on the first hit.

With budget dent repair version 2.0 I got rid of the steel wire. Instead of fabricating a series of loops with wire, I got a bunch of steel washers. I believe they might be M13 sized, but all i cared about was that they’re big enough to fit the slide hammer that I had already bought.

I started off by sort of strategically welding the washers onto the rocker panel as I had done with the steel wire on the first try. Welding them on was much easier already and they even stuck on while using the slide hammer. All is good. Or quite good. Turns out that pulling out a dent is not as easy as they make it seem on tv. The panel is fairly round and I managed to make it more triangular. Which isn’t the worst.

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1970 Fiat 500 – Rocker panel dent removal

After a couple more rounds of welding the washers onto the panel and using the slide hammer, the panel looked as in the photo. It doesn’t look great and with my skill set it probably never will look as new. But I hammered out the high points and managed to smooth out the panel quite well.

I am quite happy with the result because I now only need a relatively small layer of bondo instead of a ridiculous amount! It takes a lot of time and, in all honesty, can be quite frustrating, but it works well for a low-budget car.

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