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'51 Champion door seals

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  • Body / Glass: '51 Champion door seals

    Even though the door weatherstripping on my '51 Starlight feels reasonably soft and pliable, the car still gets water on the carpet right at the front door seam whenever the car is in the rain or during a serious car wash. There are also a couple of irregularities in the rubber (like shallow divots were sliced out) near where the leak is happening at the front of the door, so it's looking like the only way to know whether the seals are the problem is to change them.

    Now I'm wondering how involved it is to be able to remove and install the new weatherstripping. There is very little clearance between the front of the doors and the cowl where the rubber is mounted when the doors are swung open. The current weatherstripping is very possibly glued into the channel at some points, so I'm thinking the old seal may come out in pieces and require some cleaning of the channel before installing the new rubber. But there doesn't appear to be enough room for that to be done between the door and the body cowl. I imagine a lot of times the rubber is changed when the doors are off the body shell during a restoration, but will I have to remove the doors to do the job right? Or does anyone have any handy tips?

    Also, where does the sill seal go? I don't see any place for it on the door or on the body, unless it goes under the sill plate. I need some advice.


  • #2
    The Lower Door Seal goes between a Flange on the Rocker Panel and the Sill Plate on the Body with the seal Lip facing UP and Out.
    Second Generation Stude Driver,
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner


    • #3
      Take a hose and slowly spray water on the area starting at the bottom and working up. check often as you work your way up to determine where the problem spot is. It could also be around the windshield or around the antenna mounting area.

      also check to be sure it isn't coming in from the door itself. The drain holes need to be clear.
      Last edited by mapman; 12-19-2019, 09:48 AM. Reason: added thought


      • #4
        The water on the carpet seems to be coming from the area where the drip rail on the windshield post ends and the fender and door curve outward. It looks pretty obvious that the designers intended to let the water from the drip rail drop into the gap between the front of the door and the fender, using the door seal to keep the water from getting into the car. I used some masking tape to cover the seam between the door and the fender from the bottom of the drip rail, down for about six inches on the fender bulge. That cured the problem, so the door weatherstripping must not be sealing correctly at that point.

        Now I'm wondering what the trick is to replace the weatherstripping in that tight area at the front of the door by the hinges. Can it be done without removing the doors?



        • #5
          Originally posted by dstude View Post
          Can it be done without removing the doors?

          It can. But not easily. The weatherstrip should be glued in its entirety, not just in spots.
          Removing the old seal will probably be harder than installing a new one with the door on.
          And installing a new one with the door on is going to leave an adhesive mess. Fortunately, 3M™ adhesive remover (03624) works very well and will not harm the paint, assuming you use the 3M™ weatherstrip adhesive, either yellow (08001) or black (08008).

          "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

          Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
          Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
          '33 Rockne 10,
          '51 Commander Starlight,
          '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée",
          '56 Sky Hawk


          • #6
            Ditto, Rockne. I use a cheap Chinese flatblade screwdriver bent to over 90 deg. at the tip. This allows me to clean the channel of old weatherstrip, dirt and glue. Use lots of frog tape to minimize mess. Use the black adhesive 'cause the yellow will show and looks bad. Apply adhesive to channel, not the weatherstrip. And do not forget to clean the mold release off the weather strip or it will just fall off after all that hard work. (Use paint reducer)


            • #7
              I replaced the door seals without removing the doors on my 52 last summer. While I was somewhat successful, if I were to do it again I'd seriously consider taking the doors off to do it right. Removing the old dried up weatherstrip and glue and cleaning the channel was a challenge, but using various scrapers etc. I was able to get it clean enough. I was concerned with the adhesive mess so I thought about using double sided tape and contacted 3M. They advised using this product:

              I applied the tape to about 35 inches (IIRC) of the weathertrip and then fed it down through the gap between the door and the body. I started at the bottom removing the liner and gradually worked the weatherstip into the channel as I moved up, pressing it in with assorted tools. You're really flying blind here. This brought it up to the point where I could easily use weatherstrip cement on the remainder of the door. Somewhat successful in that the drivers door went fine, but the passenger side rubber had a slight twist that caused the tape to stick where it shouldn't have, and that one will need to be redone.

              It's not a fun job.
              3H-C5 "The Blue Goose"


              • #8
                Thanks guys for confirming what I suspected. I'll be taking the doors off.