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How I Repaired my Leaking Windshield - pics

Discussion in 'Chevy C/K Truck Forum' started by Big6ft6, May 6, 2012.

  1. Big6ft6

    Big6ft6 Rockstar 100 Posts

    I take a lot from these forums, I finally have something to contribute. I hope someone finds this useful!

    I just picked this 91 light 2500 4x4 up a couple weeks ago. I was really excited about how clean it was for a Wisconsin truck, very very little rust. Under the truck looks like a 2-year old Wisconsin vehicle. Then it rained. I went out in the truck and there was water all over the passenger floor mat and trans tunnel. Looking up I saw the front edge of my headliner was soaked in two places. Just behind the rear view mirror, and even worse at the top of the glass on the passenger side. After some review of forums and careful examination I determined it was only leaking at the top of the window and not leaking from any of the cowl areas. I could also see some very small bubbling of the paint on the roof of the truck right at the windshield seam on the passenger side.

    So I called up the glass repair shop, they quoted me $265 for removal of old glass and installation of new glass. (the windshield did have a crack above the driver's side, no leaking there go figure, but this made new glass necessary). I explained that it was leaking and I wanted to remove the rust. They said no problem...they can remove the window, then come back after I'm done repairing the leak to install the new glass. They said this is very common.

    So I anxiously waited for the glass tech to remove the glass, hoping to just find surface rust that could be wire brushed away and coated with POR-15. I was curious how the removal was accomplished. Well the removal was very easy, they removed the cowl and windshield wipers, and then used a saws-all with a long flat paddle type blade with serrated cutting edges around the edge of the paddle. They just slide this along the inside of the glass (from interior of truck) and detached the glass from the sealant and pushed the glass off. The glass is solely held in by a bead of adhesive/sealant against the flat metal lip within the window opening.

    Unfortunately, when the glass came off the rust over the passenger side of the glass was MUCH worse than I hoped. it looked like a multi-layer flaky french "rust" pastry. The tech kind of laughed and said...."have fun with that, have you done much body work before?" The tech was able to easily push one of his tools right through the rusted area and into the truck cab. This was going to requite welding new metal.

    I love this truck so I decided to jump in with both feet as this is the only way to get something done. I had only 24 hours to make the repair, but luckily I had a good chance to practice my welding on my 89 suburban when I redid the quarter panels and although I'm still not good at making pretty welds, I had confidence I could make something work.

    Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the rust before I wire brushed it away. But it looked aweful. Don't let it scare you just follow the steps below.

    Step 1) Wire brush on a angle grinder and get ride of everything that is loose, then I sprayed thoroughly with cold galvanizing compound. This was to coat the areas inside the roof panel to help fight the rust inside there. You can see how bad the rust was in the third photo, that was the metal that was left after wire brushing.

    Step 2) Find a piece of cardboard and cut and shape to cover your area, this will be a template for the metal piece. DON"T SKIP THIS STEP (it is annoying but can save lots of time. (this was a piece of a notebook cover). I haven't cut away any of the swiss-cheese metal yet, I won't cut any metal until I have my final patch piece ready and I can be sure I have enough base metal to weld to.

    Step 3) Copy the template to some stock metal and cut it with an angle grinder.

    Step 4) After carefully checking how my patch piece fits, I cut away the swiss-cheese metal underneath. Notice I decided to make my patch panel without the third fold I decided there was enough metal where the window sits, and it was too hard to work with three folds. I simply bent my patch panel in my bench vise to get it close. When I say close...I mean VERY rough fit. It does not have to be perfect, you can use tools to "force it" to fit once you have one side tack welded.

    Step 5) Tack down one side of the patch panel. (it is hard to tell in this photo, but the far edge is tack welded in place. Notice the patch panel doesn't fit flush, that is ok. We'll get help from some tools.

    Step 6) Use a clamp to force the panel to lay flush, and continue to tack weld down.

    Step 7) Finish welding the patch panel all the way around. This is the pain for me, because I'm a bad welder. I left some weak metal and when I tried to weld to it, it burned through, I should have made a larger patch panel and cut away more of the bad metal. Oh well..live and learn. It took me a few hours of welding and grinding, but when you're working on a project it goes fast!

    Step 8) Paint. You can really see how sloppy my metal work was with the glossy wet paint on it. Before I painted color, I coated the entire upper window sill with POR-15 per instructions from POR-15. This stuff is REALLY good and will seal the new metal (otherwise welds, especially bad ones, are prone to rust). While the POR-15 was tacky I painted with primer and then with some color (don't laugh but sunset red rustoleum matched great). Go to your local auto-paint supply (not Auto-zone or O'Riellys...the real auto paint supply place that sells to real auto repair shops) and pick up a roll of masking paper...it is cheap and makes things REALLY easy when masking off an area. Go overboard when masking cover more than you think you'll need. I used to use newspaper and stuff, but it was such a pain to tape all those little sheets of newspaper together that I'd usually not mask enough and find over-spray where I didn't want it.

    Step 9) Call the window guys to install the new window (or re-install your original). Although I tried to keep the opening true, I was really nervous that something about my patch job would make the window not fit. When the tech saw my repair he wasn't concerned he actually thought it looked good. They use such a thick bead of sealant/adhesive that they can really seal easily over any welding imperfections. It is pouring rain outside at I sit and type this so I'll find out if my repair worked (finished yesterday)
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
  2. tbplus10

    tbplus10 Epic Member Staff Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    Great job and even better tutorial. Not a fun thing pulling apart a vehicle and finding something like that, it can be downright discouraging when your working on a new project.
    This one looks like it'll turn out allright though.
  3. Big6ft6

    Big6ft6 Rockstar 100 Posts

    Thanks Tim, the repair definitely won't win any car shows, but I just went out after a morning downpour and the interor of the truck is bone dry:party:
  4. ejohnson03

    ejohnson03 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Awesome Dude...

    Where are you located? Wisconsin? To bad your not in Michigan...

    I have a big project that is going to require quite a bit of metal replacement.

    Looking for a hands-on tutorial...
  5. Big6ft6

    Big6ft6 Rockstar 100 Posts

    ejohnson, there is no better teacher than practice. Just find a good used gas shield welder (better than a cheap no-name new one) and start welding. It is scary as heck at first, and you'll think everything looks horrible, but each time you'll gain more confidence. It is a good excuse to go buy a junky old truck (that you can't make any worse) and try to repair all the rust!!

    The important thing is to always have thick, clean metal on both your base piece and your workpiece and then you should just be able to follow the instructions in the manual that comes with the welder.
  6. ejohnson03

    ejohnson03 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Well... I got a freebie welder, it is a Harbor freight special, so no gas shield.

    Gonna start practicing with an old Venture van quarter panel.

    Looking forward to playing around with it...
  7. Big6ft6

    Big6ft6 Rockstar 100 Posts

    you can't beat that price...good luck! Make sure you take time to clean the metal, it makes world of difference (grind off paint rust etc).
  8. Coach24

    Coach24 Rockstar 3 Years 5000 Posts

    Nice job Big. I realize that you had but 24 hours to turn it around so bodwork to make it look better was not going to be available. I think it turned ok , considering the time frame you had to work with.
  9. tbplus10

    tbplus10 Epic Member Staff Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    If your gonna play with that welder without shielding gas buy a tub of Nozzle Gel, it isnt a perfect substitute for shielding gas but it will help get a cleaner weld. Whenever I'm welding outside I normally turn off my shielding gas because it just blows away without helping any and I use Nozzle Gel to get a decent shield and cleaner weld.
    Practice on some thicker metal before tackling that vans sheetmetal, your gonna find out thin automotive sheetmetal is real easy to blow holes through until you've got a little experience under your belt. Remember for sheetmetal you want low voltage and medium wire feed speed.
    I also use a spray on cooling chemical for sheet metal so I dont get warping, along with the stitch welding method.
  10. 4x4squared

    4x4squared Member 2 Years 100 Posts

    PFFFFFFT!! i couldve done the same thing with a roll of duct tape and some great stuff :p

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