by Jim Ellis (aka Rusty VanBondo)
Removal and Disassembly:
In pursuit of the completion of the infamous '67 Westy Resto from "Heck" the VanBondo tribe decided to detail the dickens out of the five louvered glass camper windows. Additional windows were acquired at various shows and junkyards during the eternal wait for the completion of the body and paint processes. Most of the time they can be had for cheap and are in sad disrepair. Elbow grease and clock time can make these puppies really look and work nice.
During the initial tear-down of the bus we carefully removed the delicate painted metal trim pieces from around each of the windows. In the SO-42 interiors these trim frames were painted to resemble wood. Easily bent, they were placed in a safe location until they would be put back into service. Next we very carfully removed the screen from each window. Press on the top of each screen frame sliding it toward the roof of the bus. Select a very thin tool, possibly a small standard blade screwdriver (if necessary!) and slip it between the frame and the bottom of the screen frame and help it out of it's track. BE CAREFUL as the screen material (if still intact) will be real delicate and will rip very easily! The screen frames themselves have a tendancy to fold and crease if given enough pressure. (Been there, etc.) Take your time. Place the screens in a secure spot, maybe in a box, for later. The window frame assemblies themselves were carefully extracted from the bus via several screws located around the perimeter of each window on the inside of the van. Have a helper on the exterior of the bus to prevent the frames from accidentially falling to the ground and becoming damaged. Set them aside, out of foot stepping range, as they are removed.
Once we had the frame assemblies removed from the vehicle, we had to make a decision as to whether to make them look stock or jazz them up a bit. Inspired by a nice white SO-42 that we saw at both the '95 and '96 SOTO Garden Grove show, we decided to polish the frames to a high polish. Highly polished jalousie windows are not stock but they kinda look similar to chrome and set off the generally utilitarian nature of the beast when completed. The alternative might be to have the frames glass beaded or attacked with 3M scuff pads. Stock, original camper windows of this type have a understated satin appearence and look nice also. It's a personal taste thing. The amout of detail that you put into these windows is up to you and will determine whether they will have rattling glass, retain the dreaded draftiness, and look sharp (either polished or OEM) or tattered, dirty, and dull.
Starting with frames which had the typical thirty plus years of dinge on them we dissasembled them down to the bare frames. Removal of the three main slats of tempered glass should be accomplished via the back (top) side of the three pairs of hinged aluminum holders. Carefully maneuver the glass away from each pair of rotating aluminum holders. I have seen sets of window frames ruined by attempts at glass removal by the front (or lower) end of each pair of holders. The aluminum which makes up the rotating pairs of holders can withstand only a certain amount bending. Radical tweaking of the arms will result in ruined and worthless frames. Retracting the glass from the frame involves a combination of rotating the crank handles to various positions and a touch of experience with Japanese puzzles. Take your time and look at the frame closely. You will eventually figure them out. Each window frame has one singular stationary piece of glass postioned at the top of the frame. This remaining piece is removed by undoing the single phillips head screws, one on each side of the frame.
We chose to carefully remove the six highly weathered grey rubber retention (rattle) stoppers on each frame. These rubber bumper pieces are located between the glass and the frame at the end of each piece of movable glass. If dried to the point at which you choose to remove them, try gentle prying with a small standard blade screwdriver or small needle nosed plyers. The key word to doing these windows is "gently." Next separate the two halves of the main frame assemblies by removing the eighteen phillips head screws from the perimeter of each frame. Gently pry the two halves apart and remove the dried putty type material that is stuck on the pieces. Try a wood popcycle stick or fat edged ceramic tool to prevent scratching the frames.
The last item to be removed is the crank assembly. I found that cranking the window approximately half way open and removing the two phillips screws to be the first part. The second part is to look in between the main frame and the sliding piece that keeps the three slat holders in synch. Wiggle the crank handle assembly until the round disk shape that is inserted into the guide piece lifts free. Use your finger or the light touch of a screwdriver to assist if necessary.
...replaced the seals on one jalousie window, boy was that more work than I expected. The metal looked good once I scraped off the concrete like glue used on the inner aluminum frame.
VanBondo suspects that the "concrete like glue" was a rock hard vesion of the "putty tape" that is readily available at any RV or trailer sales and supplier. The putty is exaclty like the window sash putty that was/is used in older style home window frames. The putty tape comes in a roll with a crepe paper liner. It is produced in a consistant thickness and width. The crepe keeps it from sticking together while rolled up like a roll of tape. (I think that I have made that clear enough...) It is real cheap and definitely in need of being replaced. It is the real seal between the weather and the interior of your bus. The grey rubber outer seal is technically a "dust seal."
Check with your hardware supplier or professional paint supplier. I think that there might be a chance that some form of mineral spirits, paint thinner etc. **In a well ventilated area away from flames** might help to soften the petrified putty. Check with a professional for advice.
Over all, the refurbishing of these windows is a lot of common sense, patience and tons of literal lubrication and the other kind of grease as mentioned. No need to force anything! Simply remove the wormy gear/handle mechanism via the two screws that hold it in place. Use a lot of common sense an really look at how it all goes together/comes apart. Most of the problems with these windows are caused by dirt and lack of lube. The glass can be removed from the inside once the slats can be rotated about half way open. *DONT* pry the aluminum holders and try to remove the glass from the bottom of each holder. The aluminum cracks pretty easily. Thank goodness I had more than one set to mess with when doing mine.
It boils down to elbow grease and tons of polish. The windows can be disassembled fairly easily. A medium satin sheen would be stock. Taking the frames to someone who polished aluminum for the Harley/Hotrod crowd could make them look almost like chrome (which is not stock but looks nice). You can coose to clear coat the frames if the "chrome" appearence is to be retained. Otherwise the sheen will gradually return to the stockish look.
Use stainless steel screws when reassembling the windows. get them from your local specialty fastener supplier. Take examples with you in order to match them up.
New/NOS Stock dustseals are impossible to locate. Buy up these camper window frames at swap meets until you obtain enough seals that look good enough.
I recently discovered a supplier of a screen material that might be worth looking at if you need to repair or replace the screens in your camper. This stuff looks like it would be aestheically appealing in all generations of campers. The material is fine mesh enough to approximate the old splittie screens in the Jalousie windows and would still be nice in the Euros etc. Designed to resist damage by kids and pets. The display had a pic of a Collie with paws *leaning* on the stuff!!! =)
Elgar Products, Inc.
5250 Naiman Pkwy
Cleveland, OH 44139
I saw the stuff at my local small guy ACE Hardware.
Don't force the jalousie windows!!!!! Remove the two screws that hold the crank mechanism to the window frame and gingerly work to get the whole crank assembly apart from the frame. Look for dirt and misalignment. Clean and relube with white lith grease. I have found that 99% of the time that jalousie windows fail to open/crank due to old grease and dirt. The other percent is from their owners reefing on them with vice grips! I have found that speaking sweetly, spending time examining, cleaning, and lots of lubrication gets you further than forcing yourself.