Installing the side windows

Firstly we laid out the new windows onto a builders mate to prepare them ready for the installation. We had already mated them up to the windows to check that the sizing was correct. For obvious reasons its essential to make sure you have the right window on the right side! At this stage we left the plastic on the window so no dirt would get in whilst we cut the window holes. 

Originally we were had planned to cut the opening from the inside of the vehicle, following the curvature of the inner metal rim, however this proved to be troublesome due to not being able to get the cutter (a metal jigsaw) into the gaps. This meant the only option apart from buying an expensive slimline air metal cutting tool was to cut from the outside. Not knowing the location of the inner metal trim we decided to drill small holes from the inside at the points the metal trim curved in direction so that on the outside of the van we could play 'join the dots' and create the inner trim line. This was easy enough and did not take too long. I then masked around the line to make sure that Dad, who was doing the cutting didn't scratch the paint work! 

The noise from inside the van as the metal panel was being cut was incredibly loud! I had to wear ear protection to stop it causing damage to them. I held it from the inside to stop it from bending inwards making it difficult to cut. We used a standard length Bosch basic metal blade for most of it, but there is one corner on each side which the jigsaw can not cut around due to the body frame work (pictured top left corner below) so we used an extra long length blade to ensure the blade didn't pop out and then we padded the body work with a few thin boards of ply wood and used that to rest the jigsaw on to allow it to turn around the corner easily. This worked great, but make sure you use a long metal blade for it. 

Once the metal panel was out we filed the edges down so that they were straight and smooth to touch. This doesn't need to be done extensively just enough to smooth the rough out. Make sure that you then get all of the metal filings out of the gaps - honestly this is essential. They rust so easily exposed to condensation etc. I used a brush and vacuum together to get it all out. I then used a primer paint especially for raw metal and coated all of the edges. 

We then cut out the next panel on the other side. Exactly the same process. 

 

We fitted a black rubber trim to the painted edges to help protect it and for the window to rest on once it's in place. The rubber is cut to size and fits over just one of the metal rims (closest to the window) the other painted metal rim in this van design doesn't need a trim as it won't be seen but it might be worth ordering the larger width trim that covers both rims if this side is to be seen. 

The hardest part of this installation comes next: the sealant application! This stuff is thick black mastic and gets everywhere. Using a handheld applicator was extremely difficult to pump as the stuff is so thick it comes out very slowly, especially at lower temperatures. It took a bit of time to get it all around the window edge and was not nearly as neat as I would have liked. We were able to get a good consistancy and flow around the edges but we used just slightly more than one tube of the stuff. Be sure not to put the mastic too close to the edges as when you press the window against metal the mastic pushes out into view and this stuff is a nightmare to clean off the metal.

We then lifted the window onto the van side and starting at the bottom we gently pushed the window on to the mastic and then pushed hard in an upwards direction to make sure had good contact with the mastic at the top. After we pushed in all corners ensuring good contact all around. I taped the window to the metal and rested a weighed down ladder against the window to keep it pushed inwards. After two hours or so the windows were stuck securely in place. I decided to use the left over mastic from the third tube to go around the edges on the trailing edge of the window to make it flush with the metal edge so that no one could later prise it open utilising the gaps. This made the whole finish look very professional.

Complete! The finishing stage and this is very important - dusting down the outer metalwork. The metal fillings get everywhere. I didn't think too much of this at the time and thought I had done a good job with cleaning the fillings off, however, just merely a few days later I noticed multiple rust spots all around the van. I thought I had ruined the paint work to be honest as I could not scrub these rust points off. There was thousands of pin prick rust points all over the van. I unfortunately didn't take any photos of these but below you can see an example. They looked as if they had taken a year or so to form. The good news is that you can get them off but you need to use a clay bar (available from all Halfords) and rub the metal over and over and eventually it comes off. Its perfectly safe on the paint work but does takes the wax coating off the surface too so its very advisable to re-wax the van after. I think if I did these windows again id probably tape a sheet around the window to collect these filings as it took me nearly two hours of rubbing getting these filings out!