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Windshield frame repair (soft top header channel)

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Windshield frame repair (soft top header channel)

Post  CrawlingForward on 4/13/2015, 9:17 pm

So the holes for the soft top header channel on the top of the windshield have cracked and let go.

I can TIG and MIG weld pretty well, but I'm not sure what the best way to do it is.

Should I grind it smooth and weld on washers? Put down a new strip of metal? Full in the holes and redrill the holes? Drill it out and weld in nuts?

I can't be the first person to have this issue, but apparently my search skills are failing me tonight.



I've patched up some other rust areas with a wire brush, rustoleum rust reformer, and Charlston Green rattle can, and it looks damn near factory, so that's what I was hoping to do and spray inside as well to prevent further rusting.

I had picked up a bunch of t-nuts like the one below and had been planning on using the brad holes as spot welds in addition to small welds around the perimeter. I was planning on doing TIG welds for better control of my HAZ and only doing one small weld before moving onto the next one to let it cool and coming back to it.



Anyone have any ideas if that would work? Andrew, I'm looking at you. You're now our resident body repair guru, ha ha.


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Re: Windshield frame repair (soft top header channel)

Post  THOOPY3 on 4/14/2015, 10:58 am

I understand where you're coming from with wanting to grind them and weld in T-nuts and not worry, but honestly I think it would just be easier for you to drill new holes in the top of the windshield frame and in the header bar, or widen the existing holes (if they're not too far gone) and use larger screws/bolts. The windshield frame is hollow the whole way down, and as long as the metal is good any new holes should hold for another 20 years (OK maybe a bit of an exaggeration).

I'm not all that familiar with how T-nuts work; would they be flush with where the header attaches to the windshield frame or stick up a bit? I ask this because I can tell you from experience that any sort of gap between the header and the windshield will cause some serious air flow and water flow issues. I ended up changing my factory/original header after I got caught in a huge downpour on 128 one afternoon a few years back because of this very issue. The header wasn't completely flush with the windshield frame (see below paragraph for explanation why) and caused the top to catch air and actually pull up enough to allow the rain into the Jeep, even at just 45 mph. I had to drive from Reading to Peabody getting smacked in the face the whole way by water, and even though it wasn't a huge amount and didn't ruin anything it was extremely annoying and hard to drive with.

Another factor is if you're planning on ever switching between a hard top and soft top ever again. If you were just planning on running the soft top from here on out, you could do what our YJ's previous owner did (above reference) and run even beads of silicone across the top of the windshield to ensure the header remains flat and holds its position. I can tell you that it was a good solid hold (in conjunction with the factory screws) when it came time to remove the header to put the hard top on, and it was extremely water and air tight when the soft top was on. Obviously you would have to fill the original stripped holes to prevent water from getting down in there and rotting our your windshield frame.

A few of the holes to attach my hard top looked sort of like the one you posted, and what I ended up doing was just using larger self-tapping screws/bolts to accomplish the job. None of the holes on my windshield frame are cracked though, so this may be an apples and oranges comparison.

So long story short, I would take the drilling new holes approach for ease of job. It's not like anyone will ever see the top of your windshield, so I'd want to go about fixing this as easily and cheaply (note that that doesn't mean half-assed) as possible. I also have zero welding skills however so you may be able to tackle something like this with ease. If this was more of an eye-sore that you and others had to look at everyday I'd probably take a different approach, but I'm sure there are far more pressing things (both involving the Jeep and not involving the Jeep) that might warrant the type of effort you're looking to put into it.
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Re: Windshield frame repair (soft top header channel)

Post  CrawlingForward on 4/14/2015, 1:08 pm

So another solution out there is a softop reinforcement kit for $50 (which seems extraordinarily high for a bunch of nutserts and a tools, btw.

http://www.links4jeeps.com/writeups/rn/softop/

(Apparently you can get the same thing from Harbor Freight for like....$15)
http://www.harborfreight.com/45-piece-threaded-insert-riveter-kit-1210.html?hftref=cj

So the t-nuts I bought would be the same idea, just welded in instead of riveted. From your story, it sounds like the weather stripping is a key part of that equation.

I'll admit that part of my wanting to weld it is probably because I just mastered TIG and finally have a machine in my shop. ('When holding a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail' sort of thing).

Additionally, nutserts freak me out because of all the horror stories I've heard. I'd prefer not to have to drill them out like so many have to.

They wouldn't sit completely flush, but it would be about the thickness of a washer sticking up, which is less than what's currently sticking up now, ha ha.

No matter which solution, I was planning on coating the inside of the frame with Eastwood Internal Rust Encapsulator, as it's a good preventative measure anyhow. I still need to check, but I'm pretty sure I can inject it though the spreader bar holes in the sides.

http://www.eastwood.com/internal-frame-coating-w-spray-nozzle.html?reltype=3

I was psyched about the brass or nickel silver brazing solution that was presented on Facebook last night, but now I'm starting to doubt it because for a long term solution (I intend on passing my YJ down to my son) it seems like a patch job. If I'm going to fix it longterm, I'd rather not use dissimilar metals and patch, but rather bring it back to it's uniform original condition.

Then again, I might just be being stubborn like I always am and need people to talk me out of it still, ha ha.


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Re: Windshield frame repair (soft top header channel)

Post  THOOPY3 on 4/14/2015, 1:29 pm

CrawlingForward wrote:So another solution out there is a softop reinforcement kit for $50 (which seems extraordinarily high for a bunch of nutserts and a tools, btw.

http://www.links4jeeps.com/writeups/rn/softop/

(Apparently you can get the same thing from Harbor Freight for like....$15)
http://www.harborfreight.com/45-piece-threaded-insert-riveter-kit-1210.html?hftref=cj

So the t-nuts I bought would be the same idea, just welded in instead of riveted.  From your story, it sounds like the weather stripping is a key part of that equation.

Either of these would be my preferred way to go, especially if the rivet inserts are threaded to accept bolts. I would probably just go with the Harbor Freight kit and buy cheap weatherstripping to even out the gaps. Hell I used foam pipe insulation as a hard top gasket on the sides of the tub so I could get the TJ upper doors to work with the top. $5 at most and my top was raised enough to allow the doors to open and close without interfering with the top, and the paint is protected to boot. It's been on there for (if I remember right) over two years now, hasn't fallen apart or collapsed at all, and is cake to trim.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/MD-Building-Products-3-8-in-x-3-4-in-x-6-ft-Tube-Pipe-Insulation-Kit-50150/100665768?cm_mmc=Shopping%7cBase&gclid=CjwKEAjw9bKpBRD-geiF8OHz4EcSJACO4O7TbZjdnnYaJCDQZIhptQ8N5OBN-QymgNkL9VNaudJrnBoCzaDw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

It's all about being easy and effective in my book.
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Re: Windshield frame repair (soft top header channel)

Post  Andrew Miller on 4/15/2015, 11:35 pm

My response is better late than never... For the cleanest looking results I would cut that out and weld in a new piece. You can never go wrong with cutting out the old junk and welding in a brand new piece of sheet metal to work with. And from there drill out new hole in the same location?... the picture is pretty close up so its kinda hard to envision what the top of it looks like if that makes sense lol Does the header just screw in or does it just sit in the hole acting as an alignment hole?

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Re: Windshield frame repair (soft top header channel)

Post  CrawlingForward on 4/15/2015, 11:50 pm

Andrew Miller wrote:My response is better late than never... For the cleanest looking results I would cut that out and weld in a new piece. You can never go wrong with cutting out the old junk and welding in a brand new piece of sheet metal to work with. And from there drill out new hole in the same location?... the picture is pretty close up so its kinda hard to envision what the top of it looks like if that makes sense lol Does the header just screw in or does it just sit in the hole acting as an alignment hole?

Yup, the header just screws in with sheet metal/ self-tapping screws.

With welding in a whole new strip, don't you end up with the same corrosion worries? The holes don't need to be filled in completely and would actually have to be drilled out larger if I were to use rivets or the T-nuts.

I don't think there's any weakening rust inside, just surface rust from the look of it.

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