CORVETTE TIPS AND TECHNIQUES

1956-1962 CORVETTE DOOR WINDOW SEAL RESTORATION


One of the areas of difficulty in the restoration of the early Corvette would be the area of the door. The latches, locks, window regulators, door posts, weather-stripping, interior trim panels and arm rests, and the stainless trim at the top of the door are all possible sources of trouble, and generally very little has been written about them. I too had trouble in the restoration of my doors, but I learned a lot in doing so. One detail I has trouble with was the door to window glass seal at the top of the door (referred to as "whiskers"). They are shown on the blow-up diagram and called "Seal Assy.-Outer" and "Seal Assy.-Inner". Part numbers are given for the right- and left- hand sides. 


These door seals are only available in a reproduction unit, and the horizontal parts are not correct. The trouble with the reproduction seals is that the horizontal stainless steel bead along the length of the seal assembly at the top of the door is too small in diameter. The original assemblies (see photo #1) used a stainless steel bead which had an inside diameter large enough to receive the small diameter bead on the vertical door post. The original seals fit together in a smooth transition. 


As you can see, the horizontal stainless bead is very much larger than the vertical one. All of the reproduction units I have seen have the small diameter bead on both the vertical and horizontal seals, which cause problems in terms of a lack of proper fit where the parts come together (see photos 2,3,4, and 5).
























I found that the large diameter stainless bead can be removed from your old original seal, and it can be fit over the small diameter reproduction bead to make an authentic original-style part. I have done this, and as far as I know, there is no way to distinguish the finished product from the original part. 


The following is a brief outline of the steps I took in doing this job, and it was one restoration step that didn't take the making of a special tool. All you need are regular, standard tools that you probably already have. 


In the area marked "A" (in the accompanying drawing), cut along the lower edge of the stain- less bead to loosen it from the old whisker unit Cut along both inside and outside edges. Work the bead with a sharp knifepoint, opening it slightly so you can pull out the old seal. Do not cause dents or wrinkles in the bead. 















Grab the old whisker unit with a pair of diagonal cutters at the point marked "B" and pull the whisker portion downward and forward, disengaging it from the bead. Be careful of the bead as it will be used over the reproduction part, and it must be in good condition. (At this point the whiskers will be straight, and the bead still curved.) 


Using a razor knife, make a cut along the inside and outside edges of the stainless bead. This will simply loosen the grasp of the bead on the whisker part. While the whisker portion is held in a vise, grab the stainless bead portion with your hand and slide it back and forth to loosen it from the whisker seal. Sometimes, pigskin gloves on your hands will help you to get a good grasp of the bead. You will find that you are able to slide the bead off of the whisker seal in the forward direction. (Sometimes a little silicone spray will help.) 


Be very careful with the razor knife. It does not take any force to do this job. It may take several repetitions of the cutting action to loosen the bead, but you do not need to use force. 


The only part of the whisker, which comes directly out of the slot in the bead, is the portion at "A". All the rest of the bead, the long horizontal part, slides off of the whisker. 


Cut about 1/4-inch off of the stainless bead of the new reproduction part as shown in the drawing. This will allow the vertical, smaller bead to slide into the larger stainless bead that you are going to have covering the reproduction part. Cutting off the rear end will simply hide the fact that there is a smaller bead inside of the larger one when viewed from the rear. 


Next, spray silicone spray into the empty bead and along the reproduction part to aid in sliding the parts together. Slide the larger bead over the smaller one in the forward direction. It will slide over the smaller part and when you get to the front, curved part, you will find that you can push the larger bead over the smaller one due to the fact that you have opened the larger bead at "A". You can then squeeze the "A" portion slightly to close the gap using smooth jaw pliers or a vise with brass jaws. You can use a couple pieces of wood between the jaws of the vise instead. In making my first set of four of these parts, I damaged only one. I didn't damage the reproduction part, but the large bead when trying to slide it over the reproduction part. This was primarily because I didn't use silicone on the parts. 


In so far as acquiring the old whisker seals with which to make your new ones look original, you must look at swap meets for old discarded seals with good stainless beads. I have found that there are many old parts left over after people have done a restoration, which they will bring to a meet and sell cheaply. I didn't find too much trouble in locating the old seals. Get a few extra ones if you can, in case you make a mistake. 













































Click to download file

WindowSeal.pdf















































Photo #1

Photo #2

Photo #3

Photo #4

Photo #5