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Rear Window Seal


warren55
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I have suspected and finally confirmed that my rear window leaks. The big reveal was at the Regional Meet in Kelso,WA a few weeks ago where we had a good bout of rain. The inside of my trunk need to be bailed out, literally. I did end up with a first place trophy while there, so that made up for some of the pain!

It appears that the "Bubba" who installed this after the paint job did it wrong and might have had an ill forming seal to start with. Luckily, Gary Johnson (AvantiNW) has become a pretty good friend and he said he would give me a hand with it. He may have been drinking at the time, though. He told me there was no hope for this seal and that I should just order a new one and we'll reset the window sometime this winter. I talked to Dan Booth today and he told me it was a real pain to do, so be sure you're ready. (I don't feel ready....)

He wanted me to confirm that the three retainers were intact on the back side of the glass since many just leave them out. I did a little checking and didn't see them, but I didn't try to pull the headliner back since I was afraid I'd damage it. I do know that all the screws on the top side spin freely in the retainers, which doesn't give me a good feeling!

The rubber does not filt well against the glass, and the stainless is not sitting flush on the seal in many places, which Dan said was a problem. It sounds like they struggled with this at the factory, too.

I just thought I'd throw this out there and see who else has gone down this particular rabbit hole and how did it turn out for you? I know I need a bedding compound between the body and the seal and a different sealant between the stainless and the glass.
Or I need to adjust to not driving in the rain, which I rarely do. Just seems to happen up here in Tacoma.

Edited by warren55
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When my '70 was redone, the restoration shop handles front and rear glass by having a mobile auto glass vendor handle it...they have the tools and experience to do such things...plus the pros assume the liability for doing it correctly. I don't remember where the rear glass rubber seal came from but it was either from Studebaker International or Nostalgic.

Maybe you should consider doing the same.

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Even the glass shop "pros" don't get it right or the installers are too young to know the older technology that Studebaker used with the bedding compound in the body under the windshield and rear window. I got a real shower in my 76 after getting it back from a complete repaint with all the glass taken out and re-installed. A day after picking up the car, I was driving through torrential downpours going to St. Louis, getting a steady stream of water on my left shoulder and my wife's right shoulder as well as my ankles getting dripped on. Bedding compound wasn't used behind the windshield, rear window and between the drip rails and underside of the top. The rear window leaked on each side about where the ends of the electric defroster strips are, creating small pools around the rear speakers.

Taking the car back to the shop after I returned from the trip solved most of the leaks. The interior floods have stopped, but there are some annoying small window drips visible during car washing on the driver's side and both rear windows. I firmly believe that taking all the glass out is the way to get a top quality paint job, but its always fun getting the weather-stripping back and everything sealed up.

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Thanks for the feedback guys. Sounds like there could be issues no matter which way I go! Another adventure in Avanti ownership. If I decide to do it myself (with expert help), I'll do my best to document the process.

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When I did a glass-out repaint about 15 years ago on a '74 II, I ordered a rear window gasket from one of our vendors. When installed, it did not reach the body completely mainly the four corners. When I called the vendor, they mentioned there are two gaskets, theirs which is correct per the original, and another that is too wide and looks like a "truck gasket" because it extends too far onto the body. He didn't mention who sold the truck looking gasket but based on the poor fitting one I had, that sounded exactly like what I needed. I "ate" his and ordered one from another vendor. What I received was slightly wider and bridged to the body in all four corners. However, It did not look too wide or incorrect. No leaks.

I would assume that the fiberglass bodies on our cars may slightly change shape over the years. Its possible that the rear window opening could be a few millimeters off here and there from new, so maybe a slightly wider gasket may be needed for some cars.

Edited by Paul K.
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That's a good point. Fiberglass cures and shrinks (or not) at different rates depending on the composition of its mix along with temperatures and drying time, etc. It's not like stamping out sheet metal. Different lots of fiberglass panels could have slightly different characteristics due to manufacturing methods. When assembled at the factory I would think the assemblyman would use the proper seal to work for that particular car.

There could also be differences in reproduction rubber seals that make for such issues. In the Corvette world I've seen genuine NOS GM rubber seals go for a premium compared to reproduction rubber...it just works better.

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  • 1 month later...

Just an update; we got the window out last Friday, and as Gary suspected there was no sealant anywhere. In fact, there were no retainers to speak of either, just some sheet metal screws through the rubber for looks!

Right now I'm working on cleaning and straightening the stainless pieces so I can get them all buffed up and looking like they should. Looks like they tried to stuff those in when the window was already in the car and managed to kink some of them. Always fun trying to fix what somebody else messed up.

I guess I know why it leaked now. I'm just surprised it didn't pop out going down the freeway!

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RQB3263....With regard to Aavantis...I was advised early to have glass work done by Avanti/ Studebaker specialist and am in the process of finishing that now...Mike Myers in Duncan Falls Ohio or Stephen Cade in Gainesville Florida have both done excellent work for me and can be personally recommended ..but there are others out there that have experience...my local and very honest glass shop wouldnt touch it and sent me to Stephen Cade...be sitting down when you get the price of the seals......new old stock seals work better and are easier to install than re production seals...so I was advised ...Nostalgic seam to have them.....Seals and sealant cost for RQB3263 now pushing $800...labor unknown at this point....dollar bills appear to be a very effective window leak preventative....BILL

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Warren, just keep it under 120 and windows up to keep the rear window from flying out!

Sadly, today's automotive technicians are trained on completely different cars and situations than our beloved Avanti presents. Most body shops will have have a glass shop come in and do the uninstall and install for Avantis. We need to have the shop manual or at least the part of the manual covering the glass removal and installation available to the technician to help educate him, saving him time and us money and aggravation.

My Avanti is mostly sealed up now from this summer's paint job except for the area above the driver's door wing vent giving me a slight wind leak when driving and some moisture when washing the car. I may have to run a bead of the black caulk on the weather stripping to see if that seals it as I don't think there's any other adjustment to be done.

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...dollar bills appear to be a very effective window leak preventative....BILL

I have found that dollar bills are the only thing my Avanti responds to!

Gary has probably done more of these cars than anyone that i know of, so I'm confident he's leading me down the right path. Hopefully someday soon I can sweet talk him with a couple Wingman Brewers ACE IPA's into showing back over to help me set this window back in.

Of course, I need a little time to finish off the stainless trim, which is a painstaking process;

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Warren, I had my bumpers re-chromed and stainless taken care of by Jerry Forrester in Georgia. He's on the Studebaker Forum. He did a very nice job and the cost was reasonable. I put everything in one box and UPS'd it to Georgia and it was sent back to the body shop about 6 weeks later.

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Thanks Paul. If I was smart I'd probably do the same, but for some reason I like doing detail work myself if I can. After about 8 hours of sanding with every grit I can come up with, I find I still have some work to do to get them perfect! If I ever have to do it again, I'll bet I can cut that time in half though.

I'm probably saving myself about $.25 an hour at the rate I'm working, but for some reason I find it more rewarding than doing my normal job for 11 hrs. a day!

I wish this forum was more photo friendly. Perhaps I'll upload some pictures to photobucket and post them later.

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Those three retainers which fit above the headliner indeed are very important....Once the backlight is pushed/fit into place to your satisfaction, tighten down those three screws (center one first then the ends)...that helps set everything....... and keep it there.

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