Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New Window Clips from VTS

Several years ago when my Airstream was being refurbed to its former glory, one of the spring-steel window clips was found to have rusted in two. While a similar fate appeared to be in store for the rest of the clips, the only replacement being sold at the time was sized way too big for my original windows. Consequently, the existing clips were treated in-place with derustifyer & paint, and the broken one repaired with a strip of metal and JBweld.

On our first trip of this year, the mended clip was found to be broken again. Remembering that Vintage Trailer Supply had started offering more appropriately sized clips a year or so ago, I got online after we got home, and ordered enough clips to replace all my Overlander’s original hardware.

The new clips are made of stainless steel, and the material is a bit thicker than the old ones’. I was a little surprised to see the width of the gap where the clip slides on the glass differed from clip to clip, and ALL clips had gaps larger than the original specification.

My first thought was to spend time at the vice, and close up gaps larger than my 3/32” thick window glass. But since the clips were to be mounted with a dab of silicone rubber RTV (like the originals were), I decided to wait and see if the large gaps would be a problem. As long as the windows are latched closed, there is no way to lose a clip, and it is very possible that the RTV is all that is necessary when the window is open.

For anyone reading this post for hints-n-tips about the procedure, I squeezed about a pea-sized dab of RTV across each clip’s opening, and then pushed the clip onto the window. The squeeze-out was left to cure before cutting it off with a razor blade. I find this method to be the least messy.

Since the windows were open, the opportunity was also taken to clean the windows’ interior sides, and lube the window cranks. My assistant then wiped all the gaskets with silicone from a spray can.

The new clips looked considerably better than the old rusted ones.

Remarkably, while the old clips looked pretty rough, structurally the clips appeared to be in much better shape than originally thought. To see what they looked like without rust, the clips were blopped in a beaker of oxalic acid for a few days.

The outcome surprised me. Except for the one, already broken clip, everything else was quite usable.

With a coat of silver paint, these clips could still be in service on a vintage Airstream... except for my Airstream – I’ve already got new ones. But since there might be an Airstream purist restorer out there, the old clips were tossed in a Ziploc bag, and added to my spare parts collection. Drop me a note if you’re interested in them.

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