I am so out of it, I have no idea how a picture of my dog got added to the last post...
I used Bondo with the fiberglass strands in it. I bought a small diameter round chisel and put it inside of the holes left behind and gave it a few good whacks with a 3 lbs sledge. This way it made a little indention around the hole and created a space for the Bondo to fill. I did a fairly half-assed job sanding it all down, because three cans of spray-on bedliner later and no one can see the work underneath.Wow. Nice. I've never seen Gen3 with the cladding removed. Liking it so far.
I ripped off the cladding on my '97 but still have yet to fill in the holes that were left behind.
How did you fill yours in ?
The weird thing is that the temp never went up. I just suddenly lost power managed to coast to the side of the highway and the engine seized.Blowing head gaskets is pretty rare on these rigs (as far as I understand), was there any weird temperature stuff going on before it happened? I would expect severe overheating before a head gasket going, particularly on a 2003.
You mentioned having the water pump and timing belt done early in your build, if you had a shop do it I would investigate a bit more because they may have buggered something up that caused the overheating and eventual head gasket. This might result in someone else paying for the new engine.
Alternatively it could have been bad from the PO, but I would imagine you would have found it by now....