Body Modifications

The body on this Cherokee required the most work.The rear quarters and wheelwell lips were destroyed by rust, as were the inner panels. This rust, along with large patches of the floor, required immediate attention. I cut out the rusted floor sections and replaced them with hand-formed 22-gauge sheet steel pop-riveted in place and sealed with 3M brushable seam-sealer. I then coated the entire passenger-compartment floor with Dupli-color spray-on bedliner to protect against further wear and tear.



I solved the rust problem in the rear, and gained tire-clearance for the future, by cutting open the wheelwells by 3" (right to the edge of the rear doors) and bobbing the rear quarters up to the lower body line.

When I bobbed the rear quarters, I also extended the floor horizontally to the inner part of the quarter-panel, then bent it 90' down touching the quarter skin, then I put another 90' bend to match the new lip at the bottom of the quarter-panel. I patched a few other rust-through spots, using some fiberglass mat and seam-sealer under the L-shaped patches that I riveted in-place. This provides for a very solid and simple repair that keeps all traces of exhaust-fumes out of my truck.

This approach to repairing the rusted quarters was far easier than fabricating new inner panels, and only required about $40 in materials; the only tricky part was covering the area right under the taillight. To do this neatly, I built a small box structure that dropped down to the new lip in the back. I ran the taillight wiring through an access hole I drilled in the side after removing the now-useless rear body-mount. One consideration was changing the way the fuel-filler passes through the sheetmetal; whereas the filler pipes passed through the original lower panel horizontally, they pass through the floor vertically in this revised design. This required a larger access hole, which you can see in the above pictures, along with the cover plate for that larger hole.
The new metal is covered on the inside by more spray-in bedliner,and by brush-on and spray-on undercoating on the outside (only partially applied in the above pictures). Since the original tailgate was rusted through and completely empty of any glass or mechanism, I installed a later-model tailgate, which required modifications to use the earlier-style latches. I also adapted the '79-up tailgate window motor and wiring, and completely rebuilt everything inside the tailgate for smooth and consistent operation.

I cut the original front fenders open another 3" to get more clearance for the 33" tires. The rockers have been getting pretty dented up, so it's time to find some 4"x6" angle-iron to replace the stock sheetmetal. I have finally mounted a now-discontinued Valley rear tire and gas-can carrier that I had sitting in my garage for nearly a year.

The black paint currently on the truck is a drippy spray-bomb job. I have a dozen cans of Krylon red waiting for me to clean and smooth out the old surface for a return to its original red color. It won't be show-quality, but at least it will be all the same color.

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