Wing Window Skinning

The broken wing window lasted all the way to Seattle and back–my hat’s off once again to duct tape.

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With the last two days of warm weather I decided it was time take the big step and remove it. I’d done this with the Safari, but since the Safari is still in the “hangar” and its replacement panels are still installed with clecos, I wan’t sure this was a good idea. Removing the frame takes about an hour. The hardest part is removing the sliding cleat that holds the wing window to the center window. After a few minutes of zero progress using a hammer and wood block I remembered the rivet gun–a few minutes using the air hammer and it was out.

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I used the same technique to make the compound curve as I did in the Safari. Although the task went quickly, it didn’t go quite as smoothly. I used 3003 in the Safari and that patch is mirror smooth. Here I used 5052 and it didn’t roll quite as well–there are tiny irregularities that are too small to feel, but when installed are noticeable in the reflection. Darn.

Since the patch is made in one piece, then cut and slid together to make the center seam, it takes a lot of trial fits, particularly to determine how to fair in the cut line.

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The bottom and outside edge require a little more work, since the shell curve, right at the edge, is hard to fit. The bottom requires a sharp bend, about 3/8″ wide, to hug the shell as it makes an inflection change at that seam.

The final installation isn’t as esthetic as I hoped, but it’s better than the dirty, leaky, ugly window and definitely better than a broken window!

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The joint at the upper outside corner could have been sharp, but I elected to round everything and flow all three panels together.

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Likewise, deciding how to continue to line of the seam down through the patch could have gone directly to the inside corner, as in the Safari. However, UWE had suggested that maybe continuing the curve [implied by the shell] would be more attractive, so I tried it. It looks very natural, but I’m not sure [yet] which line is better.

Now I need to do the other side. Total time was about10 hours. The second window will be quicker, since I copied the panel shapes onto the other piece of 5052 that will be used for the curb side patch.

Well, quicker if I’m lucky. The real danger in doing this mod is the terrible quality of the holes that the assemblers cut in the shell for windows. In many of my replacements for the vista views, and in doing the wing windows on the Safari, I found very ragged edges and in some cases places where the rivets in the window frames weren’t actually in the shell skin at all–no margin or negative margin. You can handle this by making the patch bigger, except at the top edge, since this is now exposed. In the Safari, I had to cut the skin back about 1/2″ along the entire edge, so the edge of the shell skin matched the top of the center window. Here, you can see it’s a little bit lower. Hope I have the same type edge on the other side.

Cutting the shell has to be done with a cutoff blade, since the two skins are overlapping at the corner. I used a piece of sacrificial sheet tucked between the skins to avoid cutting the piece underneath.

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PS–no, I’m not going to get rid of all the windows! PPS–the couch fabric is the last piece of original interior in the Overlander. It will be going soon!


The other wing window is out and skinned over. A little polish and it’ll be goodto go. I might even get that running light fixed (on the street side).

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The closeup shows the difference in panel width between the street side and this curb window (the space between the two lines). I don’t understand how the curb side wing window, with all that heavy frame, can be 3/8″ different in width from the street side wing window. I guess every window was cut into the shell individually.

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Happy, happy. Not sure the new look is any better than the crudy interiors of the wing windows, but this makes it much easier to hang drapes! And it looks sorta 60-ish, which I like.


Just for the record, both sides are finished and moderately polished.

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Putting on the inside patches wasn’t quite as easy as I thought. There is not access to the rib that runs horizontally above the windows, unless you remove the dome. So piece of appropriately curved “L” channel, riveted to the rib, provides a downward flange for the upper edge of the new skin.

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Theoretically (notice I said theoretically) the patches should have been able to be replaced with a single curve panel, but it turned out that a little bit of shrink along the outside edge helped them fit more easily. They are not flat, even though it appears they are in the photo. Thanks to Kip for the skin, which blends in pretty well, even though the flash doesn’t do it justice.

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No, the Overlander doesn’t seem too dark without the wings and vista views, at least not to me. I suppose all you pre-70 vintage owners are used to this view and I’ll be getting used to it, also. No I’ve got to decide if I replace the goucho with a new one, or put in a dinette instead. And the overhead magazine rack has got to be replaced, too.