The finished window sweep/weather strip replacement tool

Fixing the weather stripping in an old car…
Particularly an Alpine or Tiger

Everybody loves to rest their arm on the open window ledge, feeling the wind in their face and blowing through their hair. My frustration is with the door to window outer seals or weather strip or “rubber window seals” or “rubber brushes” (what ever you may call them) that fall off when you rest your elbow in that favorite place.

Sunbeam experts told me that most people “just glued them on.” That turned my stomach. I am not saying that as a dig against anybody. You go with what works or what you know that is available. I just knew there had to be a better way.

I finally came up with a tool that is easy to make, cheap, and works beautifully!

Rick from Sunbeam Specialties in California a sent me new window sweep clips for as payment for coming up with this idea. Thank You, Rick. I do appreciate it.. 

The start

When the outer skin of the door was originally made, it was folded over at the top to go down the inside of the door. Slots or pockets were punched in it to hold the seven clips that hold the window sweep down and in place.

Over time, abuse, misuse, door damage, or whatever the pockets will and do deform.

Most people use a screwdriver to reach in and bend the pockets at the top next to the glass.

It might work but it’s not the way it was designed in the factory.

Until my tool, you would have to disassemble the entire door, removing the glass and glass mechanism, reach up inside the door with flat jaw pliers, squeezing and twisting hoping to straighten the pocket. It MUST be straight — not curved — and ABSOLUTELY VERTICAL to properly hold the sweep clips TIGHT in place.

The process

1. Open the car door.

2. Remove the old window sweep. The main reason to replace the old sweeps is that this procedure will hold SO tightly that you will damage them trying to taking them out again. So buy new ones!

3. Put duct tape on the top edges of the door to keep from scratching or chipping the paint.

4. The window sits too high to use my tool most effectively. So remove the inner door panel; then the window stop adjustment pad at the bottom of the window which is attached to the door. This allows the window to drop about another inch so. Then the window should be as low as it can go without falling off its tracks.

5. Remove all the window clips if they haven’t fallen off already.

6. Check the pockets for deformation like curves or jagged edges. (If it’s broken, you’re out of luck.)

7. You might need to use a screwdriver or two to straighten the deformities and correct the shape of the pocket. The tool is not strong enough to handle that abuse. (You will break it.)

The pocket should look like this when it’s fixed

8. You may also need to use a small needle file to smooth out the burs.

9. When all pockets are good looking, uniform and smooth, insert the tool with the handle tilted towards the interior of the car.

10. Stand the tool up, pushing the handle towards the outside of the car door. Stand that pocket a little at a time, removing and repositioning the tool as necessary until that pocket is vertical.

Tool being used

11. Continue along doing the rest of the pockets. Practice, Practice, Practice, AND Voila, the pockets are as they were designed by and from the factory.

12. Install your clips. You might notice that the clips are SO tight against the sheet metal that you find it difficult to reinstall your sweeps.

13. I had to use a VERY sharp, pointed scribe to hold each clip out a sliver to aide in getting the sweeps back in.

14. Starting in the front of the door with the sweep, holding the clips out one at a time, working towards the rear of the door, while gently pushing the sweep down as you go.

weather strip replacement tool in use
Tool being used

15. Crank up the window so it is just even with the sweep or just a hair below. That helps support the sweep from heavy arms. Reattach the window stop to hold the window in place.

16. Lube up the window mechanism.

17. Reinstall the interior trim panel. (You did clean out all the rust and garbage floating around the inside bottom of the door, right? Might be a good time to squirt in some liquid rust preventive!)

18. Reinstall the window crank and door handles.

19. Stand back and admire your work, restored to its original factory design.

 Good Luck 🙂

John Barron is an AACA national Judge in the HPOF category (Historic Preservation of Original Features) and National Judge for both Model A clubs.

He prefers original cars, to drive and work on, but he doesn’t condemn or push away hot rods. He owns, at last count, six antique cars.

TEAE member John Craig asked John Barron to work on his 1965 Sunbeam Alpine. Says Barron, “Because of the EXTREME gross negligence of the previous ‘British Car Expert’ body shop from the central mid coast Maine area, I’ve  been working on it for over three years.” This is John’s story:

He has owned his garage, now called Smith’s Auto Tech, since 1978; the previous owner had it ( then called just plain Smith’s Garage) for 50 years, starting in 1927!

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