Monday, January 2, 2012

Rear Window and Driver's Seat Go In

I'm at the point where I can start reinstalling a lot of the interior parts.  In order to install the seats, you have to work backwards, installing the rear window, rear pad and seatbelts.

I was concerned about putting the rear window back in, as I discovered it's held in place only by a strip of butyl adhesive.  I found this very helpful article and followed the steps closely.  I got the article's recommended part from NAPA.  It looks like a long strip of Darrell Lea black licorice.I was worried about the stickiness of the adhesive, but it's not as bad as I thought.  In fact I wish it was more pliable and stickier, as I had to go all the way around the outside edge and push on it hard with my fingertips to get it to make contact with the glass and form a seal.  I was able to take small pieces of the remaining butyl strip and roll it between my hands to narrow it down and stick it into some small gaps, especially at the bottom corners.  This worked well as it sticks to itself nicely and forms a continuous waterproof bead.

Here is the opening, prepped and ready.

Here is the window in place.  I must have thrown away the small 1/8" bottom spacers when I pulled the window over a year ago, so I fashioned two 3" long pieces from fine-layered plywood.  The spacers are designed to hold the glass at the right height while you seat it in the adhesive and also support it over time so I'm not worried about the wood vs. plastic issue.

Here's a closeup of the driver's side lower corner after I did a water intrusion test.  I packed butyl into both corners to make sure water wouldn't sit in the corner and eventually leak inside.

With the window in place, I installed the behind-the-seats pad.  My pad was in sad shape - some of the fiber backboard was disintegrating so I firmed the bad parts up with JB Weld.  I re-stretched and glued the loose vinyl back into place with contact cement.  The worst part was a badly cracked vinyl area over the driver's left shoulder.  I think this was caused by repeated banging by the seatbelt buckle.  I glued a spare piece of vinyl into place under the cracked area, then used a vinyl repair kit to glue the edges down and fill and texture the area with gel black vinyl and the small supplied heating wand.  It's not perfect but it will do.

I then installed the driver's seatbelt, which was a giant pain in the ass.  I bought 3-point retracting belts from Kiff Enterprises/California Pacific/J Bugs via  The belts are manufactured by Seatbelt Solutions and are good quality. The problems are mainly due to the "bottoming out" of the bolts I tried to use to mount the belt points.  The nuts welded into the car only allow about 1/2" of depth, then they stop.  My car came with 5-point racing harnesses and hardware which I removed, so the original bolts are long gone.  I had to make a couple of visits to my local Blake's Hardware with its extensive hardware selection to find the right ones.  The other problem was due to the belt design - the belt anchor has to be mounted on the same bolt as the retractor mechanism but it comes bent at an angle.  This anchor with its bend, plus the retractor, plus a bolt short enough to firmly mount in the hole doesn't have any chance at success.  I bent the anchor's bend as flat as I could in my big-ass vise, then bolted it into place.  I had to give up on the metal cover over the emergency brake cable, as it was blocking access to the bolt head.  The carpet piece does just barely fit, so it looks OK and should be fine over time.  After a frustrating couple of hours, I got the belt installed, including the vinyl pad that where the shoulder point bolts in, then slid the re-assembled seat onto the greased runners and it slides and tilts nicely.

After all of this work, I'm now able to sit in the driver's seat and drive the car around my yard and down my dirt road a little bit!  Here it is.  It got too dark to see, so next up is the passenger seatbelt and seat.