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Project Snicket, Leaky Leaks and Window Seals

Maybe leaving a 38 year old car outside in some of the heaviest rain we have had wasn’t such a good idea.

I knew from a previous day of leaving it out in the rain that it would leak, but I originally thought it was through the old door seals and rear side window seals. Apparently I was a little wrong.

Bringing Snicket in from the rain, the interior smelt like wet dog. Not pleasant, and I could see the front carpets were soaked. I had jiggled the rear side windows to make them seal a bit better last time, and it looks like that helped a bit, but the seals are beyond stuffed.

The door seals weren’t the cause of the issue though, the real issue was that the rain was entering the door and leaking out from behind the door card and over the door seal into the car.

I needed to pull the door card off to see where the water was coming from. The door cards are easy to remove. Unscrew the door handle, opening lever and window winder. Then there are a series of clips around the bottom and sides of the door card. With the door card off, there was a lot of moisture behind it

This was after a couple of days with a dehumidifier in the car too.

My doors have plastic membranes behind the door card. Designed to stop moisture coming through, but in this case they were actually trapping moisture against the door card. There were massive holes in the door panel, by design. The water is meant to go out the three drain holes in the bottom of the door, but obviously its finding the easiest way out, through the gaping holes

I removed the membrane, and had a nosy at the door. The inside of the door is in reasonable shape, with minimal rust. There was some surface rust in places. The drain holes, as you can see in the photos are clear.

I vacuumed out the inside of the doors to remove the dead spiders and dirt

Whilst in the door I wanted to check the window mechanism as they just weren’t operating as smooth as I would hope (and the drivers side makes a horrible noise when lowered). Lowering the window right down I could see why. Completely dry rails

The rollers were a bit out of round, but after a thorough smearing of grease the window rolls up and down a lot smoother. It’s hard to get along the whole rail, but I greased as much as possible and just wound the window up and down to even it out along the rail

The other thing I needed to do with the door was to treat the surface rust. I basically covered the whole inside lower quarter of the door with rust converter, until it was running out the drain holes and then left it to cure.

And then I sealed up the holes in the door with duct tape

And then back on the membrane went. I reused the existing butyl sealant on the door, and some more duct tape to help secure it in place

I repeated the work on the driver’s side door too, with similar results. I left the door cards off for a couple of days so they could dry out, but they aren’t in good shape and will need replacing at some point.

In the mean time I removed the soggy carpet and underlay to expose a soggy and ugly sound deadening. This whole lot stank, so its out of the car airing out, but the sound deadening was glued to the bulkhead and was trapping water. I used some brute force and ripped it all out, and into the bin it went. The carpet is well stuffed and the underlay isn’t much better, but both will be reused in the mean time as I cant afford a new set

The floor had some surface rust, so I ground it back and used rust converter to kill it. No serious rust though, just solid metal.

So I had basically stopped water getting through the door, but now how do I stop water getting into the door in the first place? Well, there is a rubber seal that pushes against the window. This was brittle and broken on my Mini, with large sections missing, so I ordered a pair of replacements and clips

Unlike the SD1 where you replace just the rubber section, the whole rubber and chrome comes together. Removal isn’t hard, with some gentle levering at the back of the door to pop it up far enough that you can just grab it and pull it free.

You slip the new clips into place first. I purchased mine as a kit, which comes with the “recommended” 4 clips per side, but my old trim had 5 clips per side. Not sure if they had been refitted at some point with an extra clip. I went with the four, evenly spaced new clips rather than re-use an old clip. The flat side goes on the outside of the door.

And the grippy, spiky bits on the inside

The new trim just pushes onto the clips

I am a little annoyed though, as I went with the newer plastic capped chrome strip from the later cars (as that’s what was available at the time), and it seems it’s slightly shorter than the old chrome ended strip. Doesn’t look or fit require as nicely at the front.

The rear of the trim is OK

You can see the rubber pushes up against the glass nicely with the window closed. This should make a difference in how much water actually gets into the door in the first place

The next task to stop water ingress was to replace the horribly buggered rear side window seals. These were literally falling apart, with the seal section coming free from the U channel section in multiple places

The seal appears to have also shrunk and has been “fixed” with a glob of sealant

None of this was good and the windows bucketed water in unless you carefully placed the seal whilst shutting the window.

To remove the seal you need to remove the window. This is held in place with two screws on the catch, and two screws at the front on the “hinges”

It’s a solid bit of glass, so take care not to drop it.

The seal then just pulls off the body and goes into the bin

Someone had used what I presume was butyl sealant around the seal. This wasn’t stuck to the seal at all, but was a pain to remove from the body. I ended up using a plastic scraper, and then brake clean to wipe it away

This did reveal two things. One, someone has previously used a sharp knife around the whole of the window, leaving cut marks in the paint. Two, there was rust under the “glob” of sealant at the bottom, and on the B pillar

This rust was the same on both sides, so I wire brushed it back, and treated it. The car will eventually need paint, so I’m not too worried as long as the rust wont get worse. It was mainly surface with some minor pitting. No deep rust or holes.

Refitting the seals was a crappy job because of the way the seals are folded for packaging. They are twisted so they can be easily folded to halve their size in the bag, but because of this they don’t want to easily untwist to how you need them to. With some gentle persuasion, I managed it though. I used a rubber mallet to help gently tap the seal into place. I did not use any sealant under the seal, as the design of the seal is such that it should keep water out of the join.

As a side note, having the windows out gives really good access to clean and inspect your companion boxes. Mine had some rubbish in them, lots of dirt, but only surface rust. Phew. This is after a good vacuum

Refitting the window is really a two person job, just so you don’t drop it, but It can be done alone. I used Gummi Pflege to treat the seal, and once that was absorbed I used some silicone spray on the front quarter of the seal (where the hinges are) to help the window slip over the seal into place. I sat on the back seat, fed the window out of the car through the hole, and fitted the hinges and lined it up that way. Once the hinges are over the seal you can hold the catch to support the glass. It’ll take some wiggling and jiggling to get the hinge holes to line up nicely

But the new seal butts up nicely against the window all around

With those seals replaced, hopefully now I will have sorted 90% of my water leaks into the car. I’m suspicious of the front windscreen seal, but haven’t actually seen any water come in around that. The door seals are stuffed too, and will need replacing, but I think they will hold out water well enough for now.

A the moment I’m waiting for some bits from Minispares, such as front subframe shims (none were fitted when the subframe was refitted, so the front valance has been pulled in), and clips for the four seam trims, so I can fit them. I purchased new seam trims locally, which I’ll need to paint soon to match the car, but was a bit disappointed to find the rear  “primed” trims I got were completely bare metal inside, no coating. I quickly gave them a coating of Zinc paint on the inside, so that should protect them for a bit. The front trims were primed inside and out.

I also sorted the Statutory Declaration I needed to get signed by a Justice of the Peace to say that I’m the legal, entitled owner of the car, so now I have all the paperwork ready to go and get the car re-registered. Just need to find some time and money to actually the inspection done.

Parts Used

MSSK2103 – Mini 1980 on. Window weather seals set & clips. (www.classiccarparts.co.nz)
EAM7724 – Mini seal for opening 1/4 window. x2

Please note these parts are specific to my car and may vary. Please check before ordering.

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