Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rear Window

Last week, the long-anticipated used rear window for my hard top showed up in the mail.  It survived the trip, and was in good shape, though a little dirty.  I cleaned it up and made ready to install it.  I had already received the rubber gasket that surrounds the window, so nothing was holding me back from putting the window in.

To Paint or Not To Paint?

Nothing, that is, except the feeling that maybe I ought to get the hard top repainted while I had the window out.  It's got a spot in the center of the leading edge where the paint has flaked off, exposing bare metal beneath.  I decided to call a few body shops and find out what it would cost to get the top painted.

It turns out that a professional repaint of the hard top would cost around $400-600.  As much as I'd like to do it, that's just not in the budget right now.  I'll have to handle the paint trouble with touch-up paint.  So, armed with that decision, some slave labor from the kids, and a nice warm day to do the work, I went out yesterday to get the window installed.

Installation: The String Method

I've never done anything like this.  I've never even read a how-to about it online.  But I did hear one reference to "the string method" for installing windows, in which the guy mentioned pulling on some piece of string from the inside while his friend pushed on the window from the outside.  That was enough to figure out what to do.
Pull the rope to the right, past the gasket flange
in the hard top, and the gasket will seat correctly.

The gasket had two slots in it.  The one intended for the glass was really deep; the other was intended for the flange in the hard top, and it was significantly shallower.  So I installed the gasket on the window, and got a piece of 1/4" nylon cord that I pressed into the other slot in the gasket, all the way around.  There were two tails left over, sticking out of the gasket in the lower corner.  Out we went to the car.

I'm pulling the string while Calvin...
persuades the gasket to cooperate.
I put the two free ends of the cord into the car, set the window in place, and instructed my biggest, strongest kid to press hard on the gasket right there at that point.  I then pulled on the cord, which peeled the lip of the gasket over the flange as the cord pulled free of the gasket.  Calvin moved his hands to provide pressure at the point where the cord was peeling free from the gasket, and around we went.

There were a couple points where the gasket was really reluctant to cooperate, and I was pulling hard enough I was worried I'd break the skin on my hands.  We took a break, lubed the recalcitrant parts of the gasket with some silicone spray, and I improvised a pulling handle out of a crescent wrench.  Work continued.... and suddenly we were done.  Elapsed time was probably less than 20 minutes.

The only thing left to do was to press in the decorative silver bead that surrounds the window.  That went even more smoothly, and, for only $275 and 30 minutes of (DIY) labor, the hard top is weather-tight.  It looks pretty darned good, if you ask me.  And now I know how to do it.

Oh, and one more thing:

Never Put Duct Tape On A Car's Finish

When we had a big, windy snow storm bearing down on us, I made the decision to duct tape sheet plastic and plywood over the opening to protect the Spitfire's interior from the weather.  As I did it, I wrote:
When the window arrives, we'll pull this wart off and see what violence the duct tape does to the paint.... 
How prescient.  The duct tape pulled off a couple of large (thumbprint-sized) patches of body paint, and another strip pulled a few smaller spots off.  Once I'm able to get some #82 Carmine Red spray paint, I'll need to do some spot repairs on the paint damage.

Oh, well, it's not as if I could have left the tarp on.  The flapping in the wind caused some paint damage to the driver's side door, too.  Maybe I need two cans of #82 Carmine Red....

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