The following material is a condensation of correspondence between Rob and Dave on the general subject of weatherstripping.


The following topics are discussed in this article -


Window Rubber

When Dave's son purchased his '73 Super Beetle in 1997, Dave found that all of the weatherstripping around the doors and windows was quite deteriorated. Rob had a similar problem on his '70 Bug, but said that his '68 Bug must have been kept under cover a lot, as the window rubber was quite good.

When Dave prepared the Super Beetle to be painted he removed all of the old window rubber -- just cut it out with a sharp knife to remove the fixed windows. Then when the car came back from the paint shop Dave reinstalled the fixed windows with new rubber. See our Windows article for a detailed description of this process.


Door Weatherstripping

When Dave was reinstalling the doors after his car had been painted, he was undecided as to whether it would be better to put the rubber on first, or after the door is installed. Rob advised that the weatherstripping should definitely be installed after the door is in place. It's only held with contact cement, Rob said, so its easy to install with the door firmly held by the hinges (and a shoe under the outer edge of the door is very effective in holding the door still). Rob wrote -- I had to replace the rubber strips on my older car about 6-7 years ago -- an easy enough job.

Dave purchased his new door seals from Rocky Mountain Motor Works (now Mid-America Motor Works). He installed the first one with contact cement, but a friend advised him to use 3M weatherstripping adhesive -- the black goop that comes in a red tube.

To this Rob responded -

I hadn't heard of 3M weatherstripping when I did my older Beetle’s doors about 10 years ago. I just used the contact cement since that's what was evident on the original rubber. The original glue held for 15 years, and the current stuff for 10, so I'll probably use it again. I don't know how easy spills of 3M are to clean up, but the contact cleans up easy with acetone (or paint thinners) too.

Following are some tips and techniques that will help you to give your project a real professional finish.

  • Simple tools are needed, such as straight-blade and Phillips screwdrivers, pliers, and a sharp knife or razor blade. A hard plastic squeegee is useful for spreading glue and inserting the rubber into channels by using the edge.
  • Masking tape will protect your car's finish when removing or installing rubber. Super glue can be used to repair rubber if it tears during installation.
  • For removing old rubber and any remaining adhesive residue, try the 3M Weatherstrip Adhesive Release Agent #8971.
  • Use 60-grit sandpaper to lightly roughen the rubber surface that will bond next to your car so that your rubber adheres better when using an adhesive.
  • Use a clean rag to wipe and dry your car surface prior to applying your weatherstripping. Cover any adjoining finished auto body surfaces prior to application with masking tape. This is especially important when applying glue.
  • Applying a waterbased lubricant such as Armorall or a silicone based furniture polish like Lemon Pledge where noted in the instructions will allow you to slide fitted rubber parts into cavities or channels. Always use a clean rag to apply the lubricant.
  • Use 3M Super Black Weatherstrip Adhesive #08008. Remember, this adhesive dries quickly, so have the surface area and the rubber fitted and ready for installation prior to adding any glue. Always apply the glue to another object like a popsicle stick and use the stick to carefully apply the glue to the rubber.


Engine Lid

Dave found it necessary to replace the rear apron on his '73 Super Beetle (see our Rear Apron Replacement procedure). Since the car is equipped with an aftermarket Sports GT muffler, Dave needed an apron without the cutouts for the stock muffler peashooters. He finally found the apron he needed at Innovations in Fiberglass in Phoenix, Arizona, who make specialty parts for Volkswagens. Here's how the apron looked during the installation process -


New Fiberglass Rear Apron


We show you this picture primarily to point out a problem -- the fiberglass rear apron does not have the groove running around the bottom in which the stock engine lid seal resides. So Dave, as is his fashion, started asking questions about the engine lid seal. Some of the responses he found very interesting -

  • You might try the rubber weather-strip they use on the BeetleMex bugs. It goes on the lid instead of the apron. Seems to seal well.
  • Get rid of the seal, and cut off the groove lip too. Then use a seal that hooks to the lid instead. New "old beetles" come like this from the factory... Available at most car parts stores. They are made for this purpose exactly. You can use a "general" brand, not designed for VW.

    The best part: NO adhesive, the seal has a groove in it, and it clips on to the lip of the lid like in any modern car. By the way, cut a water drain hole at the bottom of the seal where the engine lid latch is, to get rid of condensed water inside the hollow seal.

  • From Rob - I'm not familiar with the BeetleMex lid based rubber but it sounds like it might work OK... I'd think the VW specific type would be better if you can find some.

    The lip on the engine lid is quite wide, so should get a decent grip. The drain hole at the bottom of the seal is also a good idea. Mine has a line of small holes in the lower edge of the lip, since it has a "rain trap" plate under the slots with tubes each side down to those holes at the bottom.

    You may not need to cut/drill the rubber if a couple of small holes in the lid where the lip is bent over remains clear when the rubber bead is in place. With the lid shut the bead would form a small "dam" there anyway, so drain holes in the bottom of the lid itself would be better.

After some searching Dave found the seal that clips onto the inner edge of the engine lid at Aircooled.Net. The seal is essentially a continuous clip that fits over the inner edge of the engine lid; to this clip there is attached a long rubber tube which actually provides the seal. This clip-on seal provides a very solid seal against the fiberglass rear apron -- it's an excellent product. The pictures below show the seal more clearly than I can describe it.


Engine Lid Seal

Photo courtesy of BTLMEX, Inc.


Close-up of the Engine Lid Seal


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