It’s suddenly a bit breezy in here (broken front window) Part 1

It was one of those days when everything progressed smoothly with not a hint of trouble as I drove the bus over to our local garage for her annual safety inspection; a task past buses trained me to abhor.  Yet, once again, Moby passed with flying colors and happy VW chatter at the mechanic’s shop.  I could not have been more pleased because any issues brought to light during inspection would invariable complicate plans for our annual October camping trip.  I left the shop excited for our impending campfires and, at present, a leisurely afternoon drive home – the long way home.

My carefree outlook on life, however, began to fade as I waited at the stoplight just outside the shop.  As I wound the front, driver-side window up, the window suddenly dropped down, disappearing into the door, with a fairly loud ka-thunk.  I remember staring at the empty space between the window scrapers, slowly trying to convince myself that, yes, glass occupied that space not one second ago.

As visions of yet another failed window regulator danced in the back of my mind, I tried the window crank once more.  Sure enough, it spun freely and the window failed to appear.  Past experience with failed regulators taught me that the stripped gear no longer engages the winding mechanism, thereby leaving the window stranded – no longer able to move up or down. Yet the movement of the window crank, here at the stoplight, had some resistance, as if the gear still engaged the winding mechanism. In addition, the window did not “freeze” in place but rather slid down with a swiftness that resulted in a somewhat startling ka-thunk as it hit the bottom of the door cavity.  The more I thought about the situation during the drive home, the more I became convinced that I faced one of two issues:  the bolts holding the window to the regulator loosened, allowing the window to fall out of place, or the window lift channel broke where the window tab is welded to the channel.

Once home, I pulled the door panel off in order to verify what I hoped was just a need for some bolt tightening, although in my gut, I knew loose bolts were not the issue.  Predictably, I found a window regulator in perfect working order and still tightly bolted to the tab of the window lift channel.  However, the rest of the lift channel decided to retire… permanently.  After breaking from the tab, the channel remained loyally attached to the window, and both rested on the bottom of the door.

One of the joys of bus ownership, I discovered long ago, is that I rarely encounter the same problem twice.  As I sat there staring at the guts of the door, I decided to postpone the repair until the following day, when more time was available and I could better handle unforeseen issues.  Although it ended up being more complicated than I hoped, the project was relatively straightforward and can be easily handled in a few hours.

A couple of surgical notes:  I am not illustrating the procedures for disassembling/reassembling the door/door card in this post. For those interested, photos and instructions can be found in this post covering window regulator removal.  Also, know that all window rubber, the vent window, and channel felt must be removed to pull/install the window.  If any of these parts are brittle or worn, they will most likely break.  This is as good as any other time to replace these window components and even if they are in good shape, be prepared (both in time and money) to order new ones should the old not survive removal.  Lastly, I found the following Samba threads helpful and, since I sometimes forget to take pictures as I work, they will fill any gaps in my descriptions in this post.  Install Wind. Regulator,Window&Wing Window Assembly Pt 1; Install Wind. Regulator,Window&Wing Window Assembly. Pt 2

The problem:  The window lift channel tab, which attaches to the regulator, broke.  Since the window was no longer attached, it fell to the bottom of the door.  Unfortunately, to repair or replace the window all the seals, felt, and vent window need to be removed.  If the seals are in good shape, they may be saved.  If not, this would be a good excuse to replaced them.

The problem: The window lift channel tab, which attaches to the regulator, broke at the spot it’s welded to the rest of the lift channel. Since the window was no longer attached, it fell to the bottom of the door. Unfortunately, to repair or replace the window lift channel all the rubber, felt, and the vent window need to be removed. If the seals are in good shape, they may be saved. If not, this would be a good excuse to replace them.

The vent window is the first component that needs to come out because it acts as the front window channel and blocks removal of the regulator. To remove, first pull out the upper felt channel in the top of the door along with the metal retaining clips and then remove the screw pinning in the vent window. After this, remove the lower vent window bolt on the inside of the door above and to the right of the window crank (This bolt is not picture here, but can be seen in a photo towards the end of the post).

The vent window is the first component that needs to come out because it acts as the window’s forward channel and blocks removal of the regulator (see previously mentioned post). To remove, first pull out the upper felt channel in the top of the door along with the metal retaining clips.  The clips are removed by pushing them (screwdriver might be required) in the opposite direction from the curved edge of the inner hole (in the picture above, the clip should be pushed to the right). With the felt channel out of the way, the screw pinning in the upper corner of the vent window frame can be removed. After this, remove the lower vent window frame bolt.  It is located on the inside of the door, above and to the left of the window crank (this bolt is not pictured here, but can be seen in the next photo).

Once free of bolts and top felt, rotate the vent window frame backwards, to the rear of the door.

Once free of bolts, screws, and top felt, rotate the vent window frame backwards, to the rear of the door.  I found it easier to grip the frame with the vent window open, but it isn’t required.  The bottom vent frame bolt mentioned above is located in the hole at the top of the blue tape in the photo.

jhsgdf fdsjf sdf hsdj fsd f sd fsd f

Before the vent window can come out completely, the window scrapers should come out.  Here, with the felt removed, the upper chrome trim slides down and out of both the top and rear-side of the window opening.

The inner and outer window scrapers are held in place with tension clips that insert into small rectangular holes in the door.  Carefully pry the rubber scraper away from the door to locate the front most clip.  Using a pair of needle-nose, or similar thin-tipped pliers, squeeze the clip while simultaneously pulling the clip out of its hole.

The inner and outer window scrapers are held in place with tension clips that insert into small, rectangular holes in the door. Using your fingers, carefully pry the rubber scraper away from the door to reveal the front most clip. Using a pair of needle-nose, or similar thin-tipped pliers, squeeze the clip while simultaneously pulling the clip out of its hole.  Be careful!  These clips pass through a thin piece of aluminum running along the scraper which can be easily bent/damaged.  Once this first clip is removed, the rest are fairly easy to find and remove.

kjhsdfhsdjkhf sjdfhjsdhf jshdfjhdsjk

With all the felt and scrapers removed, remove the vent window frame by rotating and pulling up.  Watch the lower frame bolt tab as it needs to clear part of the door structure.  Now the regulator can be taken out as well as the window.  Push the window up until the bottom clears the door structure on the bottom left in the picture above, pull the glass towards the rear and slowly lower the glass out of the door frame.  Be careful not to scratch the glass.

The gutless door.

The gutless door.

jkhsdjfkhskdhf skjdfhjskdhf

The problem in detail: I’ve heard of these welds breaking, but this is my first experience with the issue.

kjhsjadfhads jhsdfjshdjk sjdhfjkdsh

New window lift channels are available from various VW parts vendors.  Simply tap off the old channel from the glass using a block of wood, and put a new one in its place.  Since I was somewhat unprepared for this project, I used a window from the parts stash.

jhsajdfhjsdhf sjhdfhsdjh sdjfhjsdhfj

Although no one will ever see this part of the window, I still wanted to remove the surface rust and spruce up the lift channel a bit.

jklhsjkfhjds jshdfjhsdf sjhdfjkshd jshdfjh

A little rust-reforming paint, and it was good to go.  Once dry, the installation began, but I will save that for part 2.

 

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “It’s suddenly a bit breezy in here (broken front window) Part 1

  1. Pingback: It’s suddenly a bit breezy in here (broken front window) Part 2 | Zero to Sixty . . .Eventually

  2. Same thing happened to me on a old VW Rabbit, rusted through…klunk…new part (less than 20 US) and reused teh rubber, good as new….On my bus, the land lady’s lawn mower shot a rock through the garage window, through my driver side window – an explosion of 1000 little bits…the garage charged me about 300 USD (thieves) and I gave them the glass. But agreed, taking it apart was a pain…

  3. Pingback: Occam’s razor (Front door inside latch) | Zero to Sixty . . .Eventually

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s