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Steve@OldPlymouths

Doorseal Rubber

8 posts in this topic

[Excerpt from Bill Ward's original Oldplymouths.com website]

Many, if not most, owners of 1949 through 1952 Plymouths discover when they start to restore their cars that the rubber weatherseal that mounts on the trailing side of the front doorposts has deteriorated badly. This condition not only allows water to come through but also hot and cold drafts - and sometimes wind whistles. The part number for 1949 & 1950 cars is known as a “hinge pillar weatherstrip” - part #s 1246 383 (front right) and 1246-384 (front left). I am not personally familiar with 1951 & 1952 autos but think the same methods described below would yield good results there also.

Bill Ward and Pete Anderson took two different approaches to this problem. Both methods are detailed below.

Bill Ward’s Method

When I first purchased my 1950 Plymouth, “Lucy 2”, I found that these seals had carbonized and were as hard as a rock and also quite brittle. After spending 8 years looking for replacements, I figured it was time to try to get somebody to make some up. I located 24 other potential buyers and then went to every automotive rubber company that I could find. Nobody was interested enough to help. If it were Ford or Chev parts, they would have had them in stock. After another 2 years trying to get some made up, I decided “What the heck, I can do this” and started playing around with ideas. The sketch is not to scale but it does give a rough idea of how this seal fits between the fender and the doorpost, while it seals the front door to the doorpost.

sketch_4.jpg

Materials and “How to Do it Yourself”:

1. Purchase some flat sheet rubber about 1/8” thick for the fender gasket portion of the seal. You will need 2 pieces, 2.5” x 28.5”. Use a “utility knife” and a straight edge.

2. Go to a wrecking yard and pull the rear hatch seal out of an old Plymouth, Dodge or Chrysler minivan. I got my first van seal out of a 1993 Plymouth Voyager. My second van seal came out of a 1985 Dodge Caravan. It was almost exactly the same so I suspect this same seal was used for a number of years. One difference that I found was that the later model vans didn’t have as many sharp corners as the earlier models. The relative short radius turns cause the weatherseal to “set” and they don’t straighten out as well and I have a harder time making them fit well. I looked at many, many cars in my search - a 92 Jeep Wagoneer is almost the same but the seal is a bit lighter and I don’t think it will do as good a job.

You will notice that these short radius corners usually have a rubber reinforcing material (shaped like a short rubber rod) inside, held in place with plastic ties. Cut the ties and take out the rubber rods so your new seal will have uniform sealing pressure. I tried using a metal rod to push them out - doesn’t work. One way I found to get them out is to make a small slit on the smooth side (not the toothed side) of the weatherstrip just at one end of the rod and then work them out easily. Save the rubber rod - you may need it later.

3. Cut your strip of the sheet rubber 2 1/2” wide by 28 1/2” long (not square on the top end - see photo).

4. Cut a piece of van seal 37” long for EACH side of your car. Use an “x-acto” knife on the soft rubber and diagonal cutters on the wire laced mounting portion. The “toothed” side of the soft part of the seal should go on the outside of your car. Make sure that the top 8 1/2” of the van seal is as straight as possible. Using van seal with a “curve set” as described in #2 above will cause compression problems when you close the door on this portion of your new seal.

5. Insert the flat strip into the mounting notch of a piece of the van seal long so as to make both pieces of rubber into a single seal. This is very easy to do and once inserted, the sheet rubber stays in quite well yet still allows the two spearate pieces to flex individually. You may want to seal them together after you get them fitted to your car but I believe they will stay together without any problem. Interestingly enough, when you pull your van seal at the wrecking yard, you will probably find that your seal has some mastic (generally referred to as “dum-dum”) in the mounting slot. Retain this mastic in the seal - it will help your new seal stay together without any additional adhesive.

6. Cut away 8 1/2” of the notch/base section of the van seal, leaving the soft portion, to make the part of the seal above the fender design break (where the door profile breaks to extend the fender line). You will find that you cannot preserve the “tube” format of the rubber. The ribbed side of the seal goes out against the door and the smooth side goes against the chassis. Also, you may find that you have to cut away about 6” of back (chassis side) half of the “U” channel in order to make the door/fender seam fit correctly. I don’t think this is necessarily a “one size fits all” situation here.

7. Cut away the bottom 2” of the soft seal portion of the van trim so the new piece can extend under the fender all the way down to the bottom (even below the bottom door line). If you don’t cut this away, your seal will hang over into the rocker panel - not a cool thing to do. Experiment a bit - you may decide to cut away all the “U” channel here in order to make everything fit.

8. Finally, cut holes in your new seal for the fender mounting bolts. Getting the holes/slots in the right place for the fender mounting bolts may take some time. You may have to mount and unmount your fender several times to get this right. Once you get the first one, the second is much easier. The seal in the photo below is my 3rd effort.

9. At the top of the “U” channel, you may also want to trim away some of the “U” back side in order to get your fender to be pulled in tight enough to the body. You won’t actually know whether this is necessary until you mount your fender.

10. Don’t trim the top 8 1/2” until final mounting on the car, using some strong trim cement that my body man swears will hold it tight enough. I think the rest fits as good, perhaps even better than the original. After you put new weatherstripping around the rest of the door, you can trim this top piece to fit.

Dsc00613B.jpg

In order to get the rubber to lay exactly where you want it, you will have to use a half-dozen screws or more to hold it to the chassis. However, once you get it in place and bolt the fender over the flat portion, it will lay flat and look good when the door closes upon it.

I guess the bottom line is that you can do this yourself and avoid the frustration of looking for these rubber parts. I looked for many years before trying to do it myself. I have a good deal of flat rubber left over and will be happy to share it with you - just cover the postage.

Pete Anderson’s Method

I found about 12 feet of door rubber in my brother’s shop that he was tossing in the process of moving his shop. I grabbed it from the trash heap, thinking it may work for the plymouth, and am very happy with the results. The rubber almost looks like a factory setup, and seals with the door rubber when the door is closed very nicely. Below are a three images. One is a drawing of the rubber section and a diagram of how it fits the car. The other two images show the rubber at the front door and how it tucks under the rear edge of the fender, and seals the door too. I don’t know what the original application was for the rubber we used, but I assume it was a GM car, since that is all that interested my brother and dad.”

anderson-seals3.jpg

anderson-seals1.jpganderson-seals2.jpg

Still another method

Bob Underwood (bodine@echoweb.net) says, “I found a new seal to use on the cowl/fenders. I just put them on my 52 and they fit like oem, close. They are rear hood seals off a 82/87 chevy 1/2 ton P.U. They even have pins to use on the cowl. One hood rubber will cover both doors with extra. There is a good seal at the door and fender both and it looks great - and cheap, $23 new.”

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The seal in Pete Anderson's method resembles a Chevy doorseal from a 1941 sedan. Sadly, that weatherstrip is VERY expensive (Like $125/pr), so I would stick with one of the other methods.

--Brian

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I discovered that Pete Anderson's weatherstripping is available at NAPA for about $16 for 15'. PN is BK 7701616

--Brian

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I am not able to see the images from this post. Can I access them someplace else or am I missing something ?

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The seal talked about is the one that goes on the A pillar under the rear of the front fender and the front edge of the front door. The original seal was secured to a metal strip that is held in place with 4 or 5 screws. I made a seal that seems to work using two pieces of rubber in order to make it thick enough. Maybe the second piece of rubber was not needed. The main rubber with the two humps used I think was bought from Steele Rubber and is used as a rear hood seal on either a Chevy or International Harvester truck. The rubber was attached to the metal strip. Using a thin double stick back rubber both rubbers could be mounted too the metal. The rubber on the left is the original molding. The new rubber will need to be cut on each end. Hope this helps.

P5010227.JPG

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Thanks for the reply !

Ok - so you cut the thin rubber to length which is double stick and apply it to the metal core and then attach the chevy hood seal rubber to the thin rubber? It looks like you trimmed the double lumped rubber to mimic the transition area to the door seal, correct ? 

How much difficulty will I have putting this in place without taking off the front fender ? It looks like this thing is stuffed in pretty tight...?

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You are correct. It may be possible to install the rubber without loosening the front fender. Try it and see. If you loosen the front fender there are 2 or 3 nuts behind the kick panel, one nut behind the trim below the door and one nut above in the engine area to deal with. It is possible to break any of these studs during removal. When I did the install the front fenders were not attached.

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