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Old 03-30-2016, 09:58 PM   #1
Daubs
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Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Purchased the 8.1L Big Block new from factory in 2004. Ordered it just the way I wanted it. Washed and waxed regularly, but the dreaded rocker panels are rusting. And could see rust on inside of rear wheel wells.

Purchased welder, practiced, read threads, practiced more, talked to friends, watched this video series (Project Duramax - Rust repair and painting series), and tonight I pulled the rear fender flare and started the journey.

Wheel wells first, then rocker panels. Pleasantly surprised there was not more rust hiding under there. A few "before" pictures.








Fender Flare removed...


Hit with grinder, and tapped with body hammer...Yep, RUST!



Ordering parts tomorrow. Hopefully I will be able to keep the repair inside the fender flare (i.e., easier to hide, very little body work). Crossing fingers.
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Old 03-31-2016, 02:10 AM   #2
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Ouch!
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Old 03-31-2016, 12:08 PM   #3
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Too bad your not closer I would invite you to come to my place and cut you some patch panels for that bed. I probably have a dozen or so beds that could make the patches. Looks like the inner fender and the wheel arch should do it for the bed.I have a bed from a "up north" truck that I junked out and the bed was crunchy just like that one. I saw where it was from before I bought it and felt under the wheel wells and wasn't surprised to find it super rusty . Luckily all I needed was the front and frame off of it and it was all great.
Good luck to you, if anything I can do to help holler. Jim
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Old 03-31-2016, 12:34 PM   #4
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

If that truck were a little further north where I'm at you would be lucky if the flair would have anything to mount to anymore the 800GMT trucks don't hold up to road salt at all there's some late 400GMTs with less rust then them around
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Old 03-31-2016, 12:55 PM   #5
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Thanks Jim. I ordered parts today from Top Banana and PartsGeek. Hope I can get the new metal welded in below the fender flare line. Gonna be tight.

Question: What is best prime and paint for the areas between the panels? I'll use weld-through primer where i can. Can I epoxy over that, then coat with chassis paint?

Valarius_Starchaser: I'm surprised there was not more rust. Omaha salts the crap out of the roads here, but I've tried to keep her clean. Lincoln and other towns in NE don't salt nearly as much. Lucky for now...but i haven't pulled passenger side fender flare yet (crossing fingers).
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Old 04-02-2016, 04:06 AM   #6
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Yikes! That's really unfortunate! Especially after you just spent a bunch of time perfecting your polishing skills on those fenders!

Have you considered buying new front fenders? They're reasonably affordable and reasonably easy to remove and replace. I realize this means painting but it's an option none the less.

The box sides are more challenging for sure... Something worth considering is finding a used box...the same color. One without the flares. You might even find fenders too!

The reason I mention these options is I'm concerned even after you repair these areas, the rust will keep on trucking and will become evident very soon. My experience is the rust you see represents only about 10% to 30% of the "affected" area.

If your set on patching, then I'd glue the new pieces in. This process is perfect for tight areas as opposed to welding because welding and grinding will make your repair area larger than you'll want I think. There's lots of adhesives on the market for a job like this (rust challenge aside).
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Old 04-02-2016, 08:51 AM   #7
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Thanks foot: Haven't pulled the front fender flares yet. Hopefully this weekend.

I like idea of panel adhesive for rear wheel wells / arches. With my novice welding skills, this sounds like best option.

I've looked between bed sides and it's pretty good in there (minus the arch where water and dirt collected behind flare). Once the patches arrive I'm going to inspect and cut more out. Hopefully I will be able to reach solid, un-rusted metal.
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Old 04-03-2016, 08:19 PM   #8
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Worked post-prom for the daughter's high school last night from midnight to 4 AM. Then she had a softball game at 10 AM. Long day.

Removed the passenger rear fender flare...happy to report not as bad as driver's side.

And got the driver's front flare removed...no rust! Whew!
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Old 04-05-2016, 12:45 PM   #9
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Cut more out of the driver's rear opening yesterday. Rust hasn't creeped as far as I originally thought. Patch panels have not arrived yet, so I'm going to hold off on any more cutting for now.

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Old 04-26-2016, 10:27 PM   #10
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Chipping away at the project.

What I've accomplished since last update:
- Got all rust cut out of the drivers side rear wheel well
- Fitted patch panels
- Prepped rust areas with Marine Clean
- Experimented with POR15 on the bed support rods (marine clean, metal ready, POR15...followed directions to the T). Like the way it turned out.

The plan:
- Prep non-rusty portions of inner wheel well and inside of bed, per epoxy directions
- Prep rusty areas per POR15 directions (Metal Ready)
- POR15 just the rusty areas (two thin coats)
- When POR is tacky, prime PORed areas and remainder of inner wheel well / inside of bed with Epoxy
- Panel bond adhesive the patch panels in (Lord Fusor)
- Expoxy patch panels
- Top coat with POR Chassis Black
- Reinstall fender flares
- Move on to the Rocker Panels...

Patch panels


Paint goodies


Trying this way to store POR15....glass container with metal lid (rubber bushing). Seems to be doing well
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Old 05-07-2016, 07:04 PM   #11
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Set up an old laptop in the garage, so i have access to web for tech sheets, articles, how to's, etc.

Got all patch panels test fit and ready to roll. Everything test fit well, even the flare. Fired up the new HPLV gun and shot epoxy on patch panels. Of course one fell off box, but it only left some marks in the paint. Good thing all this will be hidden behind the fender flare.

Not worried.

Decided to cut in to the passenger side rear wheel arch...rust and dirt hidden in there, but not as bad as driver's side.

Got antsy and decided to pull the hitch. I did a quicky job on it last summer. Didn't strip all the paint, just knocked off the loose stuff, and hit with POR15. Then Chassis Black over top. Some areas were holding up well, other areas were rusting from underneath original paint. So busted out the aircraft stripper and had at it. Then hit with wire wheel. Tired now, going to get some dinner and relax rest of the night.
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Old 05-07-2016, 10:10 PM   #12
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Pics...

Test fit it together


Patch Panels...


Workspace


Paint


Passenger Side...


How long that been sitting there...


Wife ready for night on the town with her Mom and Sister...celebrating Mother's Day early.
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Old 05-08-2016, 12:28 AM   #13
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

What's a little mishap when life is good !!!
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Old 05-30-2016, 05:03 AM   #14
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Got sidetracked a bit with the weight distributing trailer hitch.

Pulled the hitch a while back (two of three years ago?), cause it was rusty and i wanted to try POR15. I didn't do recommended prep on the hitch...just wire wheeled the rusty spots, removed maybe 20-25% of existing paint, and brushed on POR15. Second coat of POR, then waited until tacky, and brushed POR Chassis Black.

The really rusted spots held up well. Areas I put POR over existing paint not so much...rust was back. These were areas I never noticed until crawling under the truck.

So this time I was more thorough. My plan:
  • Aircraft paint remover (holy crap this stuff is nasty...it removed much of paint...got a spec on my arm...started to burn and I washed off quickly),
  • Spent much time removing remaining paint with twisted wire cup on grinder.
  • POR marine clean (hit it three times, then washed off with water)
  • POR metal ready (kept it "wet" for ~40 minutes, then washed with water)
  • Careful not to touch the hitch with bare hands
  • Let it sit in garage for a few days (daughter's softball tourney)
  • Two light coats of POR15 brushed on
  • Let cure for two days
  • Scuffed with scotch brite scouring pad (per POR phone support instructions...he said I could top coat when tacky, but I want to see how scuff works)
  • Two coats of Chassis Black through the paint gun

Conclusion:
  • Chassis Black looks pretty good sprayed over POR15. I did have to thin it with POR's solvent
  • Prep work was lengthy and tedious. If I have to do this again, sending hitch for sand-blasting, then epoxy primer and paint
  • My neighbors must think i'm crazy sitting on bucket, respirator on, safety glasses, hearing protection, welding gloves and grinder in hand...

Pictures

After aircraft remover


Started with metal grinding wheel...quickly moved to wire cup


After marine clean and metal ready...


2nd coat of Chassis black
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Old 05-30-2016, 05:18 AM   #15
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Back to the wheel well rust repair: Hit inner areas of surface rust with POR15 then prepped for patch panel installation.

Lord Fusor 108B is neat stuff. Pretty easy to work with, 40-50 minutes of work time, 4 hours to full cure.





Prepped for exterior patch


Need to pull last pictures from phone showing exterior patch installed.

Panels are solid. I'm happy with results. Putting the fender flare on today and moving to the passenger side soon. Progress.
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Old 10-10-2016, 08:49 AM   #16
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Put the project on hold through the summer. Daughter's softball (nine out of town tournaments), and picture guy activities took up majority of my time. Oh, and purchased two Polaris 550 ATV's...fun stuff!

Finally got around to finishing the wheel well repairs. Needed to get it done before hunting season.

Passenger side went much quicker and smoother than the driver's side. Less trial and error, knew products better, liked my game plan.

The Lord Fusor panel bond adhesive is neat stuff. Super strong bond. Easy to work with.





No need to post an "after" picture, as the fender flare covers the patch area. Looks exactly as it did, but now the inner wheel wells are painted black.

Real world test: On the driver's side, I scuffed and used the epoxy primer in the wheel well, then topped with POR Chassis Black. On the passenger side I got a little lazy, and wanted this done...so just scuffed and went Chassis Black (skipped epoxy primer). Will see which holds up better to the beating from gravel roads).

I'm happy with the repair. Appreciate all the advice and wisdom! Daubs
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Old 10-07-2017, 11:13 AM   #17
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Got the truck looking good last year...then baseball sized hail hammered it in July of 2017. Thankfully I kept the comprehensive coverage.



Talked with the local GM body shop and got estimate on rockers...

The Big Block is currently in the shop getting hail fixed, rockers replaced, and three new speakers (blew out rear, and both a-pillar speakers).

Here is the replacement they gave me...2018 CC LT, All-Star edition 5.3/6spd. It's a nice truck...but it's not the Big Block : )

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Old 10-08-2017, 10:48 PM   #18
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Make sure you are getting some good quality replacement rockers. There are several different styles and gauges .Some go just inside the door opening others go all the way including the pinch weld.
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Old 10-23-2017, 02:27 PM   #19
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Got an update from the dealer body shop today, and some pictures. As expected, they could not PDR the doors and bed, so they are getting paint. Roof and rockers are due to be next. Hope to have it back by deer season opener on November 11th.





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Old 10-23-2017, 10:04 PM   #20
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

x2 on QUALITY rockers .

the good ones are 2x thicker than stock was . and there cut out and weld in . NOT slip fit cover up crap .

99-06ish gm had rust problem with rockers . rusted from inside out .

and yes no replacement for BIG BLOCK
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Old 10-24-2017, 10:33 AM   #21
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetk30 View Post
x2 on QUALITY rockers .

the good ones are 2x thicker than stock was . and there cut out and weld in . NOT slip fit cover up crap .

99-06ish gm had rust problem with rockers . rusted from inside out .

and yes no replacement for BIG BLOCK
Yep, they are cutting out and welding in new rockers.
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Old 11-20-2017, 05:37 PM   #22
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

...still waiting...

They are going to spray the frame with undercoating for $250. Easy job with the bed off...and saves me time and labor. General Manager at the dealership said they do this for many trucks, it's a good quality product that holds up well.

Told them to take their time...I would rather have it done right, as opposed to done fast.
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Old 11-21-2017, 10:33 AM   #23
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Getting closer...



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Old 11-29-2017, 11:46 AM   #24
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Picked up the Big Block today...WOW! They did a great job! I'll post some pictures this weekend when I can crawl underneath.

Very pleased so far!
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Old 02-17-2020, 04:36 PM   #25
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Re: Project Big Block ('04 Chevy 2500HD CC 4x4)

Well, I can close the book on the 'ol Big Block.

Made the decision do sell the 8.1, and my Accord, and move to a new Duramax. Found a smoking deal on a 2019...got it for less than used diesels were selling for at the dealership.

Sad to see the 8.1 leave...it was a GREAT truck. Loved the engine / transmissions.

A few pictures...
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