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Thread: Advice on bent rocker / straightening door pillar

  1. #1
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    Default Advice on bent rocker / straightening door pillar

    Hi, long-time welder and metalworker here. Autobody is new territory and I'm hoping to get a little advice. I recently picked up an '01 Ford Ranger extended cab (with the half-doors) that had slid into a light pole wrecking the passenger door. Runs and drives great, no frame damage. I want to make it a farm truck (ie, no highways or public roads, low speeds) and I was hoping I could just throw a replacement door on but the impact which pushed the rocker inwards and upwards also appears to have twisted the front door pillar just enough that a replacement door won't close. The damage to the pillar isn't visible to my eye and the front door and the partial rear door each close well individually but when you try to close them both the door area is about now about 3/8" tighter than it should be, more than I can adjust for on the hinges. There it also some damage to body around the hood where the fender mounts but I'm less concerned about that. My replacement door came from a salvage yard truck with no impact damage.

    I have a few questions about this would love some advice. Please keep in mind my aim here is just to get the door to close so that it will seal and keep the truck from getting wet and moldy, I'm not trying to make a complete repair for highway driving. I don't care how it looks.

    1- What would be the correct way to do this? I'm assuming that I need to push or pull the door pillar forwards slightly and rotate it outwards slightly. Straightening metal is familiar territory but sheet metal is not and I'm having a hard time figuring out where I have enough structure to pull on or push against to move the pillar as a unit rather than just deforming one spot. Would I push against the hinge mounts? I have thought about using a forklift as a deadman to back up a hydraulic jack and a piece of steel stock against the pillar to distribute the load while jacking the pillar forwards. I also have a portapower but I'm concerned that if I put it in the door opening there won't be enough structure to back it up and I'll end up making things worse.

    2- Presumably I'm going to need to remove the rocker before trying to straighten the pillar? I don't really care about it being damaged and since it's bent inwards it doesn't interfere with the door closing but I guess if I leave it there I'm going to be fighting to bend the rocker as well as the pillar. I've never done this before, is it as simple as drilling out the spot welds and popping the piece off or are there tricks I should know? I'm guessing it's glued as well as spot welded?

    3- What is the correct name for the pillar which holds the front door hinges?

    Any advice is helpful! Thanks in advance.
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  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    Default

    If it were in our shop we would anchor the truck to the floor then pull or push as needed with our equipment. You may be able to push it enough to make things line up but you would probably need hydraulic equipment for that.


    You may want to check with local body shops to see what they would charge to get things lined up because purchasing pulling equipment could cost more than they would charge.


  4. #4
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    Thanks, appreciate that. I do metalwork with access to a full shop so I do have various jacks, comealongs, forklift, portapower, etc so I think I can push/pull as needed my concern is more about not being confident where to pull from or push against. If it was the frame that needed straightening that's easy enough because it's relatively heavy gauge steel which I'm used to working with but I'm not very familiar with panel body construction and I'm not sure where I have enough structure to lever against, or what the proper way to distribute pull/push forces is. Would I leave the hinges bolted on and jack against the hinge plates, or hook to them and pull with a comealong? Do I weld tabs and pull on the tabs? I imagine there are more-or-less standard places you would want to concentrate loads on, hoping to get some advice in that direction.

    I do also intend to get a quote from a couple local shops but I work 7a-7p mon-fri and no body shops I know of are open weekends so it's hard to get the truck over there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Len View Post
    If it were in our shop we would anchor the truck to the floor then pull or push as needed with our equipment. You may be able to push it enough to make things line up but you would probably need hydraulic equipment for that.


    You may want to check with local body shops to see what they would charge to get things lined up because purchasing pulling equipment could cost more than they would charge.


  5. #5
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    Default Use caution...

    Quote Originally Posted by calderp View Post
    Thanks, appreciate that. I do metalwork with access to a full shop so I do have various jacks, comealongs, forklift, portapower, etc so I think I can push/pull as needed my concern is more about not being confident where to pull from or push against. If it was the frame that needed straightening that's easy enough because it's relatively heavy gauge steel which I'm used to working with but I'm not very familiar with panel body construction and I'm not sure where I have enough structure to lever against, or what the proper way to distribute pull/push forces is. Would I leave the hinges bolted on and jack against the hinge plates, or hook to them and pull with a comealong? Do I weld tabs and pull on the tabs? I imagine there are more-or-less standard places you would want to concentrate loads on, hoping to get some advice in that direction.

    I do also intend to get a quote from a couple local shops but I work 7a-7p mon-fri and no body shops I know of are open weekends so it's hard to get the truck over there.
    Try to get some quotes and I would find people you know of, heard about, that you or others can trust. Not ones that would be upset they are not getting the entire job. Learn to 'schmooze' unlike taking your own steak to a restaurant and asking the cook to cook it and serve it to you.

    One of the worst things to have to do in frame straightening are 'twists'. They are cause by either the accident damage or novice people grabbing in the wrong area and actually creating a twist. They are a pain.

    What you need done should be under $500 and I would like to say around $350 but none of us can see and touch up close and personal, you know? We also cannot see 'hidden damage' that could be there.

    Oh why are there so many variables! Keep us posted.

    Henry

  6. #6
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    Thanks. I would happily pay that to not have to mess with it myself, if I can find a shop that will do that kind of partial work. Yeah it seems to me based on the impact and the way the rocker is bent it that it's likely that door pillar is not just pulled laterally but slightly twisted inwards. Not enough to be visible to my eye though even with the door removed.

    Just for the sake of thinking things through, or if I can't find a shop to take it here's what I was considering doing. After removing the door and the rocker panel I imagine the hinge mounts are going to be my strongest point on that pillar so I was thinking of welding a couple of pick points from 1/4" steel that would bolt on in place of the hinges. I would then anchor the truck with a chain off the hitch ball to a forklift (just a dead weight) and then connect my two pick points on the hinge mounts to a chain comealong anchored to another forklift and pull at about 15 or 20 degrees off the centerline axis of the truck in order to pull mostly forward but with a little bit of outwards twist. Does that make sense to you autobody guys? I know that using the hitch to anchor the truck isn't ideal because it only anchors it in one axis but I figure since my pull is 80% or more in line with that axis it might work ok. If not I might have to get creative, I don't have any floor anchors to work from. Here's a very rough illustration, and a picture of the hinges.IMG_0232.jpg
    IMG_0234 (1).jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry View Post
    Try to get some quotes and I would find people you know of, heard about, that you or others can trust. Not ones that would be upset they are not getting the entire job. Learn to 'schmooze' unlike taking your own steak to a restaurant and asking the cook to cook it and serve it to you.

    One of the worst things to have to do in frame straightening are 'twists'. They are cause by either the accident damage or novice people grabbing in the wrong area and actually creating a twist. They are a pain.

    What you need done should be under $500 and I would like to say around $350 but none of us can see and touch up close and personal, you know? We also cannot see 'hidden damage' that could be there.

    Oh why are there so many variables! Keep us posted.

    Henry
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
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    The other option which would be much simpler to set up would be to try and push the door opening back out by putting a portapower in the opening but my concern would be that rather than pushing the front pillar back into position I might bow the rear pillar towards the back of the truck and make things worse. Any thoughts on that? Here is what I have as far as structure on the rear side of the door opening.
    I could easily make some plates out of 1/4" steel to distribute the jacking load along the pillars.

    IMG_0233.jpg

  8. #8
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    Default Listen...

    Good buddy, listen, what you propose is good but I will add, and don't take it personal, IF YOU HAD THE EXPERIENCE!

    I buddy of mine dealt heavily into cars plus was still owner of the family farm. He was an engineer at a major company as his day job. He knew the engineering behind physics and applied it to worst things than you have. He did it using a fork lift and backhoe.

    He even had access to a frame machine but, what the hey!

    I'm seriously afraid for you because and I don't know this but I doubt you have some/enough experience in this role.

    Also, I have no doubt you can finish the truck yourself. However, you need to farm out the frame work, seriously!

    Listen, top shelf, top rated bodyshops farm out frame work. It's no embarrassment not to have the equipment needed to get one job done. Just shop around. Maybe take about 5 pictures you can show other shops, what you have and what you want done only.

    Believe me, the shops are out there and your money is a good fill in couple hour job for any shop to take; you just need to find the one that will do it for you.

    No big long stories, no photo albums, just all the parts, what you want a few GOOD photos (or drive the truck if you can). You need to ask around with people who would know people who might do this for you. Ask at garages you go to. Someone always knows someone who moonlights, etc.

    Best to you and keep us posted.

    Henry

  9. #9
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    Nov 2006
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    Just a couple random thoughts as I have done some of this kind of work the same way. As for using the fork lifts as dead weight I've found you can drag them around with surprisingly small effort. I use a skid steer for pulling and have a hook on the bucket to anchor my puller but to maximize my pulls I put a 4x4 in the bucket and have the other end on a strong point on the car close to my hook point which I usually weld to the damaged part. This pulls on a cable and compresses the 4x4 and doesn't try to move the skid steer at all. Be aware that the hook can fail and fly toward you when you are putting a serious pull on.

    Another thing you have at your disposal is the other side of the truck. you can take very accurate measurements to points on the good side and compare them to the same points on the bad side to get a feel for what needs to move. I don't mean using a tape measure but a length of square tubing with something pointed you can clamp to it. (called a tram) Extend the two parts and clamp them together on one side of the truck and compare the rod on the other side. That way you can find out what is out of position and how far with great precision.

    Bob K

  10. #10
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    Where are you located? On a rough out pull I sometimes will leave the door on closed and pull on the frame machine to move the hinge pillard. I think if you do try to pull this I would anchor a few places on the frame. But really needs to go to a shop with a frame machine.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommie.b View Post
    Where are you located? On a rough out pull I sometimes will leave the door on closed and pull on the frame machine to move the hinge pillard. I think if you do try to pull this I would anchor a few places on the frame. But really needs to go to a shop with a frame machine.
    I agree with Tommie. Take that truck to a shop that has a frame rack and have it pulled back out in the reverse order that it went in.
    Porto Powers are handy tools but that is not a job for a porto power. It will take longer to set the pull up on the frame rack than it will to do the actual pull(s). Quick and easy.

    I have a green metallic Ranger 4x4 like the one in the pictures. Great little truck. I paid $2500 for it with 124K miles on it to keep the wear and tear down on my low mileage 2010 F150 4x4. I just picked up a 2018 F150 4x4 and don't have a need for the Ranger anymore. I'm selling it to my 40 year old son as a second vehicle and it will probably end up going to my 14 year old grandson when he turns 16 and gets his license in a couple years. The only thing wrong my my Ranger is the bottoms of the extended cab rear doors are getting rust holes. It's impossible to find rust free rear doors for a ranger around here. Mine has the 3.0 v6 which doesn't have near the power of the 4.0 rangers.

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