Saturday, June 25, 2016

Replacing T-Top Panel Weatherstripping

Time, weather conditions, dirt, and gravity will render any weatherstripping ineffective after a couple of decades, and the rubber seals on my '76's T-tops had hardened and become totally useless as far as being able to keep water out of the cabin.

And even though I do not drive my car when it's raining, you never know if you'll be caught in a downpour in Florida, so I needed the seals to work properly.

Removing old weatherstripping is not difficult; as long as someone hasn't gone crazy with weatherstrip adhesive. Luckily, my T-tops only had some under the window top metal trim channel.

And since there's no use for old weather seals, I did not care if the stuff came off in pieces.




Before I tore off the old seals, I made sure that the replacement weatherstripping would fit right and that it had the right number of push pins (nineteen of them).

Also worth noting is that they are side-specific, so there's a left side and a right side.


After making sure the new seals were the right ones for my car, I removed the old stuff.

By the way, the only way to remove the old push pins is with pliers, which is not that hard. You just want to make sure you get all of them out as you don't want little plastic pieces rattling inside your T-tops.


The trim plates by the windows are secured by screws (four each). Mine looked pretty bad, so I bought new ones at the local ACE Hardware. For only 80 cents it would've been foolish not to replace them.



Under the trim plate, you will find four "floating" nuts (red arrows below), so you will want to make sure they are aligned properly when you're ready to attach the trim plate.



Again, the only weatherstrip adhesive I found was in the trim plate channel. It wasn't a whole lot, but I still had to scrape seal remnants with a sharp wood chisel. I then sanded the trim plate and painted it with a couple coats of SEM Landau Black for a fresh look.



Again, remove ALL push pins, unless you desire rattling noise coming from your T-tops. A pair of pliers will get the job done.


After the area was clean, I wiped all contact areas with a rag soaked in alcohol.


After all push pins had been removed and the area was clean, I test fitted the new seal to make sure it lined up properly.


Once a proper fit was confirmed, I installed the seal on the trim plate. I did not use any adhesive for this since the channels keep the weatherstrip in place. Just make sure the screw slits in the rubber seal are aligned with the trim plate holes.


I also purchased a roll of self-adhesive foam which I attached to the contact face of the trim plate (see red arrows photo below).


I then screwed the trim plate in place.


The rest of the weatherstrip is secured by the nineteen nylon push pins. Just make sure they are all the way in so the seal will be tight.

The new rubber seal should be soft and supple, so you can stretch it as necessary (within reason) so all push pins align with the holes.




I added a screw to the front hole of the panel (red arrow below), even though the original seal did not have one. This section of the weatherstripping was the only area where I applied a coat of adhesive in order to secure it in place.


Installing T-top weatherstripping is a do-it-yourself project that can be accomplished in a couple of hours per side, provided there are not gobs of adhesive and glued seals to remove.

You will need a Phillips screwdriver and a thin scraping tool. The wood chisel I used on the trim plate worked great for this. You will also need a good pair of pliers in order to remove the old push pins.

And if you want to repaint the trim plate, you will also need a can of satin black paint. I like SEM Landau Black.

Also, keep in mind that when I had my T-tops repainted recently, I had the body shop remove the chrome trim pieces, so yours will look a little different than mine. Otherwise, that does not have an effect on the old weatherstrip removal and the new seal installation process.

Thanks for following my '76 Vette Blog!



Product Links... (#sponsored)

SEM Landau Black Color Coat Paint #15013
Foam Seal Tape 1/4" wide 1/8" tall High-Density Adhesive Foam
• 3M Black Super Weatherstrip and Gasket Adhesive | 5 fl. oz.

If you're planning to replace most if not all of the weatherstripping—which may be a good idea considering its age—you will save money if you purchase a kit.

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