T-Top Blues

Fix That Drip With Some New Strip

Grant Peterson Jun 14, 2005 0 Comment(s)

As you may have heard by now, here in Southern California, we are on track for breaking the all-time record for the wettest year ever recorded. I guess the Mamas and Papas were right about this place: Maybe we should be building an ark instead of cars.

If your cruiser is feeling more like a capsized boat than a hot rod, it's time to take a look at your weatherstripping. Chances are that most of our beaters, and some of the nicer cars we drive, now have a few years and a few miles on them. That's enough to take its toll on the old rubber's ability to seal right. All this comes not a moment too soon; are my windows up?

Our patient here is an '88 Camaro with a bad case of the leaky T-tops. Luckily Classic Industries has the cure for the T-top blues. Follow along as we write the prescription for this leaky Camaro. You can do this right at home with a minimal amount of tools and a Saturday out in the garage. You are going to need as follows:

*(2) 5oz (the bigger ones) tubes of weatherstrip adhesive, try 3M's adhesive
*Body caulking, the pliable black stuff, it looks like rope licorice and is used for windshield installs.
*A small piece of #320-#400 grit sandpaper
*Any sort of adhesion aid liquid and a cleaner/solvent or wax and grease remover
*Weatherstrip release agent and/or a heat gun
*Any type of grinder, D.A. sander, or files for trimming the garnish moldings Screwdrivers and you may need a drill

The biggest and most time-consuming part of the procedure was removing all the old adhesive. Just be careful with scraping methods, not only for your safety but to help keep the paint on the car. Removing the adhesive took several hours and a couple of cans of elbow grease (should've put that on the list too). The kit comes with everything else to replace the rubber up the A-pillars, T-tops, and B-pillars.

Just think, when you get done you won't have to carry that towel in your car anymore.

6

Here's the kit we got from Classic Industries. Everything looked good and complete. Take a minute to go through it and get acquainted with the product and the instructions. It just might save you some heartache.

Now the fun starts, it's time to remove the handle and the garnish molding from the glass top.

Starting with one side of the car, remove the weatherstrip from the top. Underneath are the mounting screws, remove those and remove the retainer. Under that is the original rubber sealing strip or "awning." Remove that as well.

Clean all adhesive off the area from which you removed those pieces. Now scuff that area with #320-#400 sandpaper and wipe clean. If you have the adhesion aid use it now.

Peel the release paper off the new sealing strip and make sure it's centered, then install.

Install the new weatherstrip retainer from the kit. Make sure it is centered and as far out to the door glass side of the panel to contact the inner surface of the plastic "awning." You may need to drill new mounting holes for this if they don't line up with the new parts. Ours lined up just fine.

Now move back to the car. Remove the garnish molding from the A- and B-pillars; be careful with the push in plastic pieces holding the A-pillar moldings.

Remove the "butt joint" attaching screws at all four corners of the opening. Make sure to save all screws; it's misery if you lose them.

Remove the little push in plastic pins at the bottom of the weatherstrip on the B-pillar. Before tossing them make sure there are new ones in the kit.

Now starts the fun task of taking out the old weatherstrip. If needed remove the screw in retainers for easier cleaning.

At the four corners of the top opening it is necessary to build a little "bridge" where the weatherstrip moves from the top to the pillars. This is done with body caulking described in the needs list. Notice ace editor Mike Harrington's Curious George band-aid. As we said, be safe scraping!

Lay the new weatherstripping out on the car to make sure you know how everything goes. After that, start applying the weatherstrip adhesive in all the retainers with quarter size daubs in the corners of the center divider strip.

Carefully put a bead of adhesive on the upper ridge of the center divider.

Install the new weather-strip starting with the top area first. Roll it in a down, in, out motion with the outside edge seating first. Then reattach the butt-joint screws into the new weatherstripping.

At the bottom of the A-pillar, remove the paper backing on the new sticky area and attach.

Put the new plastic push pins in to attach the bottom of the weatherstrip on the B-pillar.

Move back to the garnish moldings. Because of the improvement of the design in the replacement weatherstrip compared to the stock items, we need to trim the garnish moldings. Take this corner down on all of them a little bit.

An electric grinder will do the trick. Be sure to not leave any sharp edges that could cut the weatherstrip and always wear safety glasses.

With all the garnish moldings trimmed it's time to install the weatherstrip in the top glass. Follow the same method as before.

With the top off, seal the front and rear strip of where the roof meets the weatherstrip.

Reinstall the garnish molding and handle to the T-top.

Reinstall the top, wait for it to dry, and presto! You're halfway done, what are you waiting for; get that other side done.

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