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I have an 03 Focus SE that has the usual rocker panel rust. I Thought the jacking points were still solid and the back of the passenger rocker panel just simply was going to need plated, already got a patch panel and planned to weld it in this past week end.

I got the car inspected on Friday, but didn't notice until yesterday when I was going to cut out the rusted section of the rocker and repair it, that apparently when they lifted the car at the shop it crushed the jack point where it is rusted out.

Has anyone built new jack points on the pinch weld seams? or plated the seams to increase it's strength? I seen they make jack rails for the much newer mk3 Focus, has anyone fabbed up a set for the ol' MK1 Focus?
 

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Learn to jack somewhere else, I never use the OEM jack points, too weak even when new.They gradually cave in little by little even with normal use.

Plating does NOT increase literal strength whatsoever, it just makes the same weakness part go longer before corrosion damage occurs.
 

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Under the front main subplate is fine but you have to go deeper under the car. Back, use the subframe but be careful, not much jack placement space, or use the radius (strut) rod box inboard of the normal rear jack point.
 

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My mechanic wouldn't pass my car because the pinch weld and rocker were so rusted out that he said he couldn't jack it.

They make a product called jacking rails (by STEEDA) for the mk3 focus that are just a few bolts to install and they run the length of the pinch weld. Unfortunately, they don't make anything comparable for the mk1s. So, I fabricated my own and I think mine are quite a bit beefier than even the STEEDA ones. I used 1x2 steel tubing that is 1/8 inch thick and made custom welded mounting plates at the ends. Now I can jack anywhere between the wheels near the old pinch weld locations.

So, if you don't have the capacity to weld, perhaps you could show the STEEDA rails to a fabricator and have some made. They'll have to take some measurements and figure where they are going to bolt on to make them and since it will be a one-off, it might not come cheap. I used a combination of existing hole locations and a few drilled holes to mount the rails at the ends and also used self tapping screws every foot or so along the length.

I have a replacement rocker to fix those too but it is not on yet. The added benefit of the new jacking rails is that I will have something solid to weld the replacement rockers to whereas before everything was so far gone in some areas that there was nothing left to attach to.
 

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Those are a take off from the Kenny Brown rails for the foxbodys from yrs ago, which also used w/ his super subs & matrix braces to tie it altogether...
 

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You have any photos of the rails you built?
I meant to take some but did not. I'll be doing some more work on this vehicle soon so I will try to take some pics while at it. The rocker panel on one side is pretty shot and I have a replacement to install and since the pinch weld area was pretty far gone, the new jacking rails will act as a solid place to connect the new rocker. I was just putting on some new front rotors and jacking is so much easier with the rails on it. Nice being to have lots of solid jacking points and places to put a stand.
 

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Finally got a chance to take some pictures of the jacking rails I made for my 03 Focus. The pinch weld areas were pretty rusted out, especially on the driver's side. My mechanic wouldn't pass me on a safety inspection without addressing this issue and it was hard to find many places to jack the vehicle up to work on.

The rails run right up against the inside of the pinch weld seam and to get some good support, I added a diagonal strut at the front. In part this was to get to a solid area for bolting. This strut and the rail at the rear also have gusset plates welded to the rails for bolting. I used some 3/8" bolts that I was able to thread through existing holes in the frame and also used some self tapping bolts both in the gussets and along the length of the rail.

Not sure why the uploaded pictures are upside down and sideways but you get the idea. First one is a close up of the front. Next is looking towards the rear (note that it gets tucked under a brake cable housing). The last one is looking at the front where you can see both the long rail piece and the diagonal strut.

JackRail01.jpg

JackRail02.jpg

JackRail03.jpg
 

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That would certainly be better than it was...........I myself would likely screw it down a few more times down the length to prevent bar warping away from rest of car; it would make the jacking even more solid too.
 

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That would certainly be better than it was...........I myself would likely screw it down a few more times down the length to prevent bar warping away from rest of car; it would make the jacking even more solid too.
The screws along the length of the rail aren't doing a whole lot as you are just screwing into sheet metal. The substantial attachment is via the through bolts at the gusset plates that go into some thicker frame rails. The rail itself is very rigid as it is about twice as thick as the commercial rails made for the MK3 Focus.
 

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Jack that rail in the middle with full car weight and it WILL bow, it is NOT that rigid over a longer span. I've messed with that configuration of bar stock before. Turn the bar 90 degrees and it would be twice as strong but of course it won't fit like that.

The spotwelds that hold the entire unibody together are not big in footprint either but it is the increased number of them that stiffens the structure up, even with very little bite at each individual one.

By that I mean that if you use a lot of screws and most importantly carefully pick the pilot hole size to maximize screw bite and grip you would turn that entire length into a MUCH stiffer unit.

Most people use sheetmetal screws like idiots and lose a whopping amount of the strength they can impart. Don't take that personal as it is not aimed at you, rather the readers.
 

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Jack that rail in the middle with full car weight and it WILL bow, it is NOT that rigid over a longer span. I've messed with that configuration of bar stock before. Turn the bar 90 degrees and it would be twice as strong but of course it won't fit like that.

The spotwelds that hold the entire unibody together are not big in footprint either but it is the increased number of them that stiffens the structure up, even with very little bite at each individual one.

By that I mean that if you use a lot of screws and most importantly carefully pick the pilot hole size to maximize screw bite and grip you would turn that entire length into a MUCH stiffer unit.

Most people use sheetmetal screws like idiots and lose a whopping amount of the strength they can impart. Don't take that personal as it is not aimed at you, rather the readers.
Actually, it doesn't bow at all as it is. If it did, you've got bigger problems and the car really shouldn't even be on the road. If you look at the commercial version made by Steeda for the MK3, it only has bolts at the end gusset plates. The bolts are only there to keep the thing from dropping on the ground. The main rail is positioned just inside the pinch weld seam so the rail engages the unibody frame in the same area as the pinch weld area where you would normally jack. What is different is that the rail spreads the load out over a larger area than you would have by placing a jack at the factory jack points. There is continuous contact for the full length of the main rail. This is one way that my custom rails differ from the Steeda version. Looking at a picture of their rails in the link here, it looks like they have some contact plates that make the rail only engage the frame at the ends where it is connected and at the midpoint of the rail. Note that they only have three bolts holding it on - two at one end and one at the other. One thing I hadn't previously mentioned is that I did have to put a kink in the main rail to achieve continuous contact by following the shape of the frame. To do this, I cut almost all the way through the rail, bent it until it fit just right and then re-welded all around at the kink.

On my rails, only the short diagonal strut has to bridge any sort of gap but you could jack that area too because it is short enough that the bending stress isn't that significant.

I've tested it and it works as expected in that you can place a jack anywhere along the jacking rail and it is super solid. If I place the jack anywhere around the middle half of the rail, I can easily lift both wheels off the ground with now bowing at all. I don't know how thick the steel is on the Steeda rail tubing but looking at the shipping weight of those, I think the tubing I used is substantially thicker (0.120 thickness).

As far as the self tapping screws go, I use ones with a self drilling tip and drill a smaller pilot hole to get them started. This way they go in easily but I am sure that I am not oversizing the drilled hole. Pretty idiot-proof way to do it.
 

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'If it did, you've got bigger problems and the car really shouldn't even be on the road.'

You DO realize right, that ALL unibody cars on the planet will pretty much deform when you lift them fully up at only one concentrated jacking point? Jack them ALL the way up and then open the doors, they will stick from being misaligned due to body flex. Never saw a car that didn't and brand new off the showroom floor.

'If I place the jack anywhere around the middle half of the rail, I can easily lift both wheels off the ground with now bowing at all.'

I can jack my stock Focus and easily get both wheels off the ground and even jacking at ONE END of the rocker panel, not the middle, even with the door jamming deflection there.

Not saying your setup is not MUCH better than it was, just saying that the car still likely bends at jacking, I'd prove it to you if I were there in person. The outboard rocker area only tightens up, there is still no connection to the material further in toward center of car and paper thin, it still deflects. Why we used to have to weld frame connectors into cars to get them to not flex around so much at a car launch on dragstrip.
 

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'If I place the jack anywhere around the middle half of the rail, I can easily lift both wheels off the ground with now bowing at all.'
What I meant there is that if I place the jack near the middle, there is no noticeable flex and the wheels lift evenly. Sure I can lift the entire side jacking from the front or rear but in this case, there is some flex so the far wheel doesn't lift as much as the near one.

All I can say is that I'm very happy with how it is working and don't see a need for any modifications. It's infinitely better than it was and I don't get any perceptible bowing when I jack. Maybe when I get a chance, I'll jack from the center and pull a string to see if there is a measurable bow.
 
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