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Vapor Barrier Replacement How-To
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Amskeptic
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:25 pm    Post subject: Vapor Barrier Replacement How-To Reply with quote

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The later buses with the Flow Through Ventilation System, introduced in the 1971 model year, are very sensitive to water incursion through the doors. You can see water pooled along the wheel arch gutter after a good rain. This water makes short work of the door panels, particularly the replacement TMI panels made from cheap compressed paperboard.

You WILL need a full day for each door should you decide to perform the deluxe version below.

1) Remove the window crank handle. Please be methodical and gentle with the plastic cover. 90* from the plane of the handle you can pull the plastic away from the round hub, then gently twist it aside to uncover the screw.

2) Remove the door pull. Is yours broken? Thanks are due to the last person who over-tightened the screws. OEM buses will have little foam pads glued to both ends. Remove a screw while holding its end flush against the door. Then arc the outside edge out while unhooking the inside of the end from the sheet metal. An inadvertent yank here will break the plastic hook or crack the end.

3) The door pull has a plastic cover inside the well, pry it out carefully from the leading edge to access the escutcheon retainer screw. OEM buses have a small rectangular metal washer to distribute the tightened screw load against the escutcheon . Pull the door pull out a little and slip escutcheon free.

4) Remove speaker if so equipped. Remove the two screws on either side of the ventilation duct at the rear of the door on the later FI buses. They have little plastic caps that you pry off gently so they don't SPLIT. The screws have very specific shapes, so don't go losing them or the plastic caps will either not go on or fall off your replacement screws

5) Place the air extractor knob in the center of its slide. Grab your plastic spatula (it is on the stove next to the wisk) and pry the panel out along the top edge just under the vent window. Get near the clips before you pry and do not get impatient. Place spatula within reach on dashboard if you need two hands. Work from the top and front and release clips straight back. If you shift the panel or otherwise spaz out, their position will shift robbing you of orientation when re-installing.

If your panels are warped/water-damaged, hold on here. You are looking down between the panel and the door. You can see the inside view of the clips going into the door. Grab your spatula and try to support the rotted cardboard as best you can as you pull the panel free of the rear of the door. Sometimes you can shift the panel at this point and let the panel slip free of any clip still stuck in the door. Do not tear the door panel or its holes under any circumstance. Look at the vapor barrier on your OEM 1972 > bus and you will see a flap on the inside to protect your extractor registers. Remove old vapor barrier.

6) Do your door maintenance tasks:
a- remove and clean/oil/grease door latch assembly. It is easier to remove if you remove the inside door handle and pull rod, so now is the time to....
b- replace the foam surrounds at the window winder and door pull and fore and aft of the door pull rod support (see first picture for ugly new yellowish foam locations).
c- remove outside door handle and clean excess wax under the gaskets and oil the lock cylinder and door handle lever and spring.
d- remove any loose window felts and clean old adhesive from channels. Straighten felt as necessary, I swapped mine end-for-end for fresh new wear surfaces:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


My retaining clips (those horrible porcupine bleeders that also hold the outside brightwork surround and scraper) had ripped the rubber off the back sides of the felts, so I built up the rubber a bit with Permatex UltraBlack:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.



e- clean the inside of the door insanely nicely. I used WD-40 and a terrycloth rag to laboriously remove every trace of adhesive on the inside surfaces of the door, and I cleaned the wax/undercoat from all inside surfaces of the door assembly down to within 1" of the lower s-bend course from the very front to very rear. Clean the bottom and drain holes with great gladness. Wax the inside door panel paint and buff clean. This WILL help the spray adhesive and help the door stay nice.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


7) Once door panel is free, lay it down on a clean soft towel. Wherever you see lifted vinyl, clean underneath with GumOut carb spray on a paper towel, and clean the door panel where it is supposed to stick. Use Crazy Glue to spot-bond the vinyl that has lifted at the edges back onto the factory masonite panel. One little drop per flap at the corners, and a small drop every 1/4" as you slowly go around the perimeter will help stave off the day that you have to buy a new cheap soggy cardboard TMI replacement panel with its cheap glue that gives up in the mildest heat. Install new clips where yours are broken or missing entirely. Do check the bottom of the door cavity for any clips. Remove the stuck ones carefully from the door. Original clips are superior to replacement clips, so be nice to them. I ViseGrip all clips closed a little before installing them in the door panel so they have a sticky grip. Find their original orientation in the holes. They leave little dents where they live. You might also want to close down the "barbs" a tad on your new clips, they are too broad to fit in the horrid new rubber grommets which barely fit the holes in the door either.
Check the security of ventilation duct/armrest screws on passenger buses. Do not overtighten. They use dished broad washers to help center and distribute loads. Green LocTite would be a useful way to get low-torque fastening that won't loosen up. Many monkeys tighten these screws and break the priceless ventilation duct plastic where the screws go in. Hello. It is the cardboard crushing down that makes the ventilation duct/armrests get a little loose feeling. Tightening the screws past tight helps nothing.

Cool Put on your thinking cap. You must think now. Shoo away the kids and the dog. Look at your LEFT door panel sitting on the clean soft towel. It's "inside" surface, the cardboard and the screws and clips are looking up at you. You need to make a new vapor barrier out of plastic sheeting (4 mil, minimum) that will be "more inside". On your new vapor barrier, you must make a new flap that will be "even more inside still". Get your new sheeting laid out in a very approximate way over the door panel. Dimple the plastic sheeting (no perforations please!) with your door clips to set the perimeter. You can draw a connect-the-dots outline of the dimples about 1/2" outside each dimple and you will have a decent outline of the final vapor barrier. Measure the distance (red arrows) from the top panel clip holes down to where the barrier flap must be glued (purple and green) to the barrier:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Take these measurements to your plastic sheeting and just rough in the glue line parallel to the top edge of your sheeting. "Borrow" an inch within the measurement (if it is eleven inches, for example, make a line at ten inches), to be your glue line. I used spray adhesive, so I had to put protective plastic over the barrier so it would not get spattered with glue. I borrowed another inch (if the barrier flap is seven inches, cut to eight) and protected the flap from overspray as well:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


A medium coat of glue comes up very fast on smooth plastic. Allow to dry until tacky. Then apply the flap one inch gluey surface to the one inch glue surface on the barrier. Plastic likes to slide and slip, so make sure the surfaces are tacky before joining:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


9) If you're feeling lucky, punk, you can cut the perimeter of the vapor barrier to your drawn line. I do trim it down for easier handling but keep an inch for safety, and do the final trim on the door. Now you need to mask the window winder foam, the door pull rod and foam silencers, the door panel perimeter AND mask the air extractor AND mask the entire inside opening of the inner door panel. I threw in the towel.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


So many people don't bother to prep and wonder why their windows always roll up dirty, and they wonder why the inside of the door fills up with crud and drains terribly, and the next time the panel comes off, the foam tears out. The BobD was a mess of WaxOyl smearing the window from the contaminated flap, and there was bondo and screws and washers glued to the inside of the door down at the drains. Your tape job only needs to cover a couple of inches away from the adhesive spray, it is not like primer that drifts all over the place.

10) Test fit your barrier and make personal notes of how you are going to work in the flap into the slot at the rear of the door as you negotiate major stickiness. Spray the clip perimeter and the painted surfaces of the door. Once tacky, pull the masking tape (and towel), fold the new vapor barrier at the glue line, and keep the flap away from contacting the sticky door. Start the flap into the slot at the rear of the door and insert above the extractor frame. Try to index the door clip hole just above the flap's rear slot with the corresponding dimple on the vapor barrier, work your way up to the top edge. Smooth out the vapor barrier from the middle to the outsides all the way around the door. It wants to be only sort of taut. There's a grooves on the inner door panel leading to a hole. Do not mush plastic into this groove and hole. Just let the barrier adhere across the surfaces below it:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Here is what it looks like once the plastic has been proferred to the entire adhesive sprayed surface. I was a little bitty high on the glue line-at-rear-slot, but not enough to mess anything up. Use a fresh razor blade to trim the plastic to an exact perfect 1/4" past each grommet all the way around the door. Don't let the plastic bunch under the blade. Now you are going to join the ranks of the insane. You are going to puncture each door clip hole. The holes with good grommets, you are going to work the grommet edge over the plastic. I used a small screwdriver with a plastic spatula to work the plastic under the grommet:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Shut-up. That's how they look from the FACTORY. In the above photograph, you can see a few grommets that I got the edges over the plastic. The holes without grommets, you can just stick new grommets in . . . Good Luck With That! Fully half of my new rubber grommets were too big/too dry/too hard. Help them get stuffed into the hole with a correctly sized phillips screwdriver up the middle to stretch them skinnier just a tad. Too much and you will poke a hole through them. Wax on the outsides of the rubber grommets may help. Don't want any more leaks? Make sure they are all intact and installed flush. A closer view of a successfully fluffed out grommet edge on the left, and the next one in line to the right. There are only sixty ninety billion thousand grommets:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


11) Lubricate each hole with a little Vaseline. Double check the barbs on the new clips that you squished the "arrow tip" a little to help them enter the grommets. You want the panel to easily pop off next time, right? without tearing the cardboard?
Slip the air extractor knob into the grill of the door panel in your hand. Visually align each clip with its corresponding hole along the top. Make whatever little nudge-adjustments you need to, but keep them to a minimum. Once all clips are ready to go, start pressing each clip in. Maintain a resistance to gravity and start aligning the clips along the front vertical of the door with as little movement of the clips inside the cardboard holes as possible. Press in, one at a time. Finish the perimeter of the door. Reinstall your hardware. The window should be closed firmly, and the winder handle installed exactly horizontal, it will droop below horizontal when released.

A good careful job . . . will stop the leaks.
Colin

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.



ADDENDUM: the velocity of air that blasts through the air extractors on its way to the front door pillar vacuum was enough to keep blowing my flaps up, defeating the water-proofing purpose. Get thee some tinnerman nuts (those sheetmetal clips that allow you to screw a self-tapping screw through them) and trap the bottom of the flap to the door beam channel along the bottom. It adds to the experience to have a watertight bus:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


P.S.
Late model buses (post '76) have a nifty removeable grill!
Just grab your 3 or 4 mm allen wrench and LOOK up along the top inner surface of the grill. There are two tabs! Pull the tab down with your allen wrench and pull the top edge of the grill out towards you a little.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Do the other tab too!

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


With top edge out a little, pull grill upwards at one side or the other:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Now you can pivot the grill up along the bottom and free of the door panel!
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


SEE? Grill is off! So you can trap your new flap! (The older '72-75 buses do not allow you to pop the grill off - you have to remove the whole door panel and remove those nasty little retainers from the thin little plastic posts cast into the grill)

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


When you are ready to reinstall, please hook the lower slots of the grill along the door panel edge. You may have to press inwards a little. Negotiate the grill louvre around the knob, and press down on the grill making sure that you have the slots of the grill actually engaged to the door panel. You can tell, because the lower edge of the grill will be flush-tight along the vinyl.

Do not attempt to "snap the top part into place". Especially after water damage, the cardboard will just cave under your press. No, get the EZ Allen out and pull the tabs down one-at-a-time as you push the grill downward flush along the bottom and snick it in along top:


Last edited by Amskeptic on Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:10 pm; edited 2 times in total
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sclutty
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent write-up... and timely (for me) too!
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cool thanks Colin,

good timing for me as well, i have to do the doors in the next month or two. cant wait for my keys to turn from the outside! ....I wonder if I have any plastic in there still at all? i remember putting some in there like 10 yrs ago...

Great write up! I don't know if i'll be getting the plastic all tucked in under those grommets though..... since i don't have grommets...and since that looks pretty.....intense.

best source for proper-fitting grommets? anyone? how many per door?
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe I missed it, but what are you using for plastic sheeting? I have had good luck with the plastic they use on greenhouses and the plastic that high end furniture come wrapped in. The plastic shopping bags supplied by Radio Shack hold up to years of exposure to sunlight and the elements as well. I used a bunch of them on the doors of my various rigs over the years, but haven't done one in five years or so, so I can only assume they are still the same today.

If your cardboard is in decent shape you can also paint the back side with a vapor barrier primer paint or even with epoxy. Not saying to leave out the plastic film, but to add another barrier layer directly to the back of the cardboard.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wildthings wrote:
Maybe I missed it, but what are you using for plastic sheeting? I have had good luck with the plastic they use on greenhouses and the plastic that high end furniture come wrapped in. The plastic shopping bags supplied by Radio Shack hold up to years of exposure to sunlight and the elements as well. I used a bunch of them on the doors of my various rigs over the years, but haven't done one in five years or so, so I can only assume they are still the same today.

If your cardboard is in decent shape you can also paint the back side with a vapor barrier primer paint or even with epoxy. Not saying to leave out the plastic film, but to add another barrier layer directly to the back of the cardboard.


The first 9X12 roll of "plastic drop cloth" that said 4mil, and I bought it.

These barriers are not only to "protect the door panels". So, while I have also tried to double up protection of the door panel itself by using waterproofing spray on the back, these vapor barriers are also trying to prevent water from pooling along the wheel arch and rolling down under the rubber mats and filling the footwells. You want the vapor barrier to make sure that any water that enters along the window is channeled to the drains in the door that are outside the door seal.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

where are you these days Colin?
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have added drains to the rear of my doors. I don't like that it drains the water into the channel along the top of the wheel arch and then out the door gasket, but it is better than having a door sitting partly full of water when the bus is facing up hill. I can at least keep the wheel arch well painted, while it is hard to do much of anything for the bottom interior of the door. I have seen one bus where someone drill in hole in the bottom rear exterior skin to get the water to drain outside the bus.

I have thought about blocking all the door drains temporarily and partially filling the door with some phosphoric acid to eat up the rust and form a corrosion resistant barrier. Maybe someday.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thats a good clean presentation...

having an early 71, i dont have more than the door accomodation for those vents, and i wouldnt have it any other way. and on my bus w/o the vent, there is another way to go about it. i have successfully attached the plastic sheet to the inside of the metal door frame. that way there is no agonizing over the little booties and how they fit to the plastic.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is one of the drain holes in the rear lower corner of my passenger door.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Colin... Keep them coming!
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 4:47 am    Post subject: door panels Reply with quote

What can we replace the soggy panels with besides the crap from TMI? Who makes a quality panel that is not mush board?
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent write up! Applause

Not to get off topic or open a can of worms but I still don't get the purpose of the blue slider vent. I know it has something to do with air circulation inside the door but why?

EDIT: Answered my own question. Them Germans though of everything!
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=333157&highlight=blue+vent
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm about to do this on my '71, so I was happy to find this write-up. Can one of you explain the purpose of the "flap?"
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome.

now if only my bays door skins weren't all curled up and water damaged. Is gray a common door card colour? Sad
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

blacter wrote:
I'm about to do this on my '71, so I was happy to find this write-up. Can one of you explain the purpose of the "flap?"


Excellent write-up! This is a project on my to-do list also. So the flap channels moisture inside the door itself as opposed to down the inside of the vapor barrier where it will build up and eventually "pop"?

Think I understand the idea...
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:39 pm    Post subject: Re: door panels Reply with quote

Cptn. Calzone wrote:
What can we replace the soggy panels with besides the crap from TMI? Who makes a quality panel that is not mush board?


make your own and have them covered. Another option in addition to the plastic is to paint the inside of the board with polyurethane to make them hold up better.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sewfine has quality panels. Not the TMI type stuff. I cut mine from hardboard from Home Depot. It looks similar to Masonite except it's smooth on one side, rough on the other and much lighter in color. On the gals bus we bought bare panels from Sewfine so we could cover them ourselves. On my bug I used finished custom Sewfine panels.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a '69 that has no door vent. Do I still need to do the flap? I do not remember one being there when I tore it apart, but that was two years ago.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a thought. If you are running a plastic or other panel that works as a vapor barrier then the sheet plastic would not be particularly necessary. Even painting the backside of the original cardboard with some form of vapor barrier paint might do the job as well as protecting the panel itself better than the plastic could. A high latex roof coating might work well to paint the back of the panels as would a EDPM rubber coating.

To Mountain Minstrel, since you have no vent you need no flap.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mountain Minstrel wrote:
I have a '69 that has no door vent. Do I still need to do the flap? I do not remember one being there when I tore it apart, but that was two years ago.

Yes, without it the area between the seat and door floods.
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