Repairing the Window Channel

Created: 7/18/2005

Last updated: Original

Author/source: Knut Grimsrud / DML

I finished re-installing my refinished toll both window trim this  weekend.

On my '81 the metal trim separating the  fixed glass from  the tollboth window needed to be refinished and in  the process I thought I'd fix something that had been bugging me  for a while.  On my late '83 DeLorean, there is nicely profiled  rubber gasket  between the metal trim piece and the fixed glass,  while on my   late '81 it appeared to have been glued in with RTV  sealant and looked like crap. I hadn't taken close note of  others' cars, but I had presumed that my '81 had been broken into and  had an amateur  repair job done. To my surprise, at the recent tech  session I took note and it appeared that all the cars (sampling of  4 or 5) had the same crappy-looking RTV sealant between the  tollbooth trim and the   fixed glass instead of a rubber seal/gasket. My '81 now has a nicely profiled gasket like my '83 and it looksmuch sharper now, but I'm curious what the cutoff is  for cars that   do or don't have the profiled gasket. Do everyone's  '81 cars have
RTV sealant between the metal trim piece and the fixed glass instead of a rubber seal/gasket? Is the seal/gasket only present on '83?

I have received a couple helpful comments and followup questions  about the side window seal I'm talking about, so instead of leaving  everyone guessing I thought I'd include a few more details.

The part for the seal in question does not appear in my parts manual  (and probably not in yours either). The helpful DMCH folks didn't
have any trouble finding it based on the description, and form the packing slip it appears the part number is 110731 (it is listed in the DMCH web site, but it is not depicted in the corresponding parts manual figure).

From the notes I have received thus far, it appears that if there is a cutoff, it is between VIN 6251 and 6292.

Removing/refinishing the metal window channel and installing the seal is not a particulaly difficult task, although it may try your patience. It took me several beers over the course of an afternoon to get it all together again.

Removal is tedious but straightforward. Start by removing the inside upper door panel using the usual procedure. Then remove the upper
window retaining bracket that sits along the windowsill. Incidentally, this bracket holds the "fuzzy caterpillar" that is the inside velvet trim that brushes up against the window. On my car, the fuzz was peeing off the backing and looked pretty shabby (I have seen a lot of other cars that have the same issue). Use the opportunity to fix that issue while you're at it.

The metal channel is held in place with a pop-rivet at either end. Carefully drill the heads off the pop-rivets in order to liberate the ends. The tedious parts starts with cutting the RTV away from both the inside and ourtside of the channel sufficiently for the metal channel to let go of the fixed glass. I found that a lot of work with an EXacto knife (and going through a number of blades) works OK with sufficient patience. I also found a piece of metal wire embedded in both of my channels that functioned like a zip cord in liberating the metal channel from the fixed glass (not sure that's what it was for, but I was removing it all anyway). After a number of beers and a lot of patience cutting, the metal channel can be pulled loose.

Send the metal channel off for bead-blasting and powdercoating using a semi-gloss black finish. You could do some sanding followed by a spray with a rattle-can special (Krylon) to refinish the trim, but for as tedious as the work is there's no point in cutting corners.

Re-installing the metal channel and seal can also be tedious, although not difficult. Instead of using pop-rivets for the ends of the metal channel, I merely tapped the holes to a convenient size and used machine screws. I'm sure sheet metal screws would work fine as well (or you could use pop-rivets again). Be careful to ensure your screws are short enough to avoid putting a dimple in the exterior skin.

The seal is a bit unwieldy to get seated. Starting at the front corner, I got the seal started. Using a small non-sharp implement (I used a miniature screwdriver that had the blade blunted) you'll need to run it along the edge between the glass and the seal on both the inside and outside in order to get the glass to slip into the seal without bunching the seal down into the groove. After I got the one
end started with some progress, I fastened the retaining screw for that end. It's then a matter of working your way all along the length of the strip. Because of the shape, you'll have to get the opposite side started when you get halfway and then work your way towards the center.

Like I said, it's a little tedious, but it's not difficult and I find that the results are a nice visual improvement and make the car appear much more finished.

As always, the usual disclaimers apply.


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