Windows 3 – An upgrade

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Looks fine doesen’t it. This is Libby’s original Passenger Side door window. However, when turned over and looked at from the inside, we see this.

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Although difficult to see, it’s totally rotted out, as shown in the close up below.

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The drivers side was just as bad.

Series Land Rover Door tops are notorious for doing this. They are of a very old design, being flimsy steel framed sections welded together. There are lots of nooks and cranny’s where water can seep in and accumulate, thus starting rust points. Added to that, the window design is quite old and somewhat crude, with the panes being supported on (and sliding on) felt covered steel channels set into the window frames. These trap water and get damp and then rust through, allowing ingress of more water, thus furthering the problem. The design was probabaly adequeate when Landy’s first came out, but these days is a little antiquated and a bit of a liability.

So what to do?

Very briefly I considered rebuilding them, and then thought better of it. It would take a LOT of work to get these back to anything like good condition, and the experience would probabaly be painful. Most of the steel work within the door top frames was rusted though and I have no welding experience. So I wrote that idea off.

Next, I considerd buying some new, but original design doortops and transfering all the window hardware from the old tops to the new ones. But wait – this is the same design as before and will have the same issues. Maybe in 10 or so years time, I will need to renew the doortops AGAIN!?

In the end, I went with the far more expensive, but I think better option of replacing the door tops with the far more superior after-market door tops from Rocky Mountain Products (P/N RMG010). These are formed from extruded anaodised aluminium sections welded together and incorporate the same design of rubber channel window slides that are found in the window track raplacement kits previously fitted to the rear sliding windows and the center door windows. Although expensive (I got mine from RMP in Canada, though they are also available from their UK agents, Rocky Mountain Spares), they are of superb quality.

The new door tops are much stiffer than the the original Land Rover Steel ones, and so provide a stuffer door with less buffeting in the wind. They are very easy to fit – basically remove the old ones by (hopefully unscrewing the nuts holding the original door tops on) and replace with the new door tops. With Libby, it was slightly more work, as the nuts were so corroded, I couldn’t remove them from the door top studs. The nut splitter failed to work, and in the end, I carefully cut through most of the nuts with an angle grinder and then split the remainder with a cold chisel. This effectivly destroyed the old door top stud, so there was no going back now – the new door tops had to be fitted!.

I actually painted my door tops before installing them on Libby, so they match the rest of the vehicle. The glazing is easily removed from the frame using small stainless steel screws, to make painting much easier. Some people leave them in bare anodised aluminum and there is nothing wrong with this, as it looks very smart. But I painted mine in the same over all colour as Libby (Deep Bronze Green) for uniformity. And very smart she looks too.

Whilst installing the door tops, I also installed new door top rubber seals, as the old ones were hardened and cracked. These can be obtained from Rocky Mountain and are well worth fitting. They come slightly overlong and need cutting to size, but that’s no hardship. Because I don’t take my door tops off, I sealed the strip to the lower door, and the door top to the strip, using some waterproof sealant, to try and improve the weather proofing even further. but this is not essential. I did find I needed to trim the outer lip of the sealing strip where the drain holes are located in the door tops to allow the water to flow out. Installation of the door tops was dead easy. Screw the stainless steel studs into the door top, fit the sealing strip and drop into the door top onto the lower door, using the securing studs to align everything. Add the stainless steel securing nuts and tightn up. Fit the catches to the window panes and job done!

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It probabaly took me an hour or so to do both door tops (including cutting the old studs off) so it really wasn’t a big job to do.

I’m thrilled with these. OK, they wern’t cheap, but they are watertight and the door is so much stiffer, with far less vibration from wind buffet or road vibration. there is no shower of rust every time I slam the door or slide the windows open. The windows are easy to slide and both the front and rear windows can be opend (unlike the OEM one’s). The catches mean that you can lock the door from the outside by reaching in, and then slide the window shut to lock them. Whilst this can be useful in some circumstances, of course this means that it is easy to lock your keys in the car. Ask me how I know this…….

One thing that some users have commented on this that the window catches make it impossible to slide the windows all the way forward or all the way back. There may have been an earlier design of catch, but I find that I have no problem sliding both windows to the fullest extent and past each other.

As for the original windows, they stayed on the shelf for a while, but a few weeks ago, I stripped them of all their useful hardware (window catches and window panes) as spares for future use or trade, then they made their last jorney to the metal recyling facility. Ironically, in the back of the Land Rover. If anyone needs some window catches or front window panes, let me know.

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