Discovery – rotten sills

While I’ve been healing, I’ve done very little driving in the Discovery. But good news – my thumb is much better! I can now drive all of my cars again and, as I discovered this afternoon, I can work on them again too!

The Discovery was lucky to get through the MOT due to sill corrosion. It was an advisory item because most of the rot was hidden by a sill cover, which the MOT tester is not allowed to remove. Me and my mate Dave are fully qualified though, so we pulled off the trim.

Initial 'Discovery' of rot

Initial ‘Discovery’ of rot

As you can see, it was properly rotten. Thankfully, rot seemed to be confined to the outer sill – the inner generally seemed sound. Gaining further access to the sill isn’t easy. A Discovery 3-door becomes a real challenge if you need to replace the sills. A common bodge is to just cut the lower bodywork. That’s a clumsy way to do it. We opted to drill out the spot welds holding the outer panel in place, which allowed us to wedge it out of the way.

Drilling out the spot welds allows this panel to be moved

Drilling out the spot welds allows this panel to be moved

Naturally, things were a bit grim behind there, but not as bad as they could be. There’s an inner skin of steel, which had started to corrode. This is because road muck from the rear wheels gets forced into the cavity, but it’s impossible to clean it out, so rot can merrily start. Further surgery was required though. It was time for power tools.

Cutting away the rusty metal

Cutting away the rusty metal

The key to a good repair job is to get rid of as much rusty panelwork as you can. You must find good metal – there’s no point leaving rusty stuff as it’ll just make your new repair fall apart. As we dug and dug our way in, I had to start stripping the interior out to prevent it catching fire during grinding/welding.

Some fabrication needed around the body mount

Some fabrication needed around the body mount

By the time I had to leave, my mate Dave had got to this stage. More of the inner sill needed removing that we first thought, but that’s the nature of rot-busting. Once all the rot is gone, Dave can get on with fabricating repair sections in nice, thick steel. I was tempted both by complete replacement sills and the idea of fitting seriously beefed up ones. I’ve decided I prefer Dave’s fabricated approach though, which will use good metal, only replace what needs replacing and by the time we’ve finished, will hopefully leave it looking pretty much stock.

I’ve decided that I don’t want a monster truck. The closer this vehicle remains to factory, the better.




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