It started with Cargo door weatherstripping...

It started with Cargo door weatherstripping...

Postby rorgeastro [OP] » January 4th 2021, 3:38am

Today was nice weather so I was going to put on my new side door weatherstripping.

To install it, the top and bottom slider door brackets need to be removed one at a time, so the bracket arms can be located within the inside of the weatherstripping rubber loop of the door opening.

No problem right? Loosen three lower door bracket bolts first.. slip the bracket under the rubber.. and then loosen the two Torx screws holding the upper bracket..

20210103_upper2.jpg



All of a sudden the backing plate falls down the door cavity.

:o
20210103_174645.jpg


As it's a cargo van, an access plate is held on by a few metal screws.. no dice.. the access plate allows access to the side door beam and not much else.

there's an oval rubber plug near the middle bottom of the door. i got a giant magnet and teased the backing plate from the inside front of the door till I could grab it in the opening with my smaller flex magnet pick up tool.

20210103_163809.jpg


Here's my imagined diagnosis of what happened. Back around 1999 when a welding robot was assembling my Astro in Baltimore, a glitch must have happened to cause only 2 of the 4 backing plate welds to be performed. ( or an accountant ordered engineering to eliminate the 2 spot welds.)

20210103_backing.jpg

Whatever the cause.. over the last 20 years of door use, the backing plate has been flexing slightly.. (see tiny cracks)... The thin backing plate also contributes to the flexing of the door jamb sheetmetal as it isn't wide enough to distribute the forces of the door slamming inward while latching shut.

20210103_cracks.jpg


but because the torx bolts have been holding the upper door bracket all these years.. it didn't really matter until today.. when I expected the backing plate to remain in place when I removed the bolts.

My solution plans will be to drill the spot weld remnants from the backing plate, find my fish tape tomorrow and fish the plate back up into position in this skinny boxed in section of the door shell, and use some flush nutserts or rivets to secure the backing plate in position.
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20210103_backvert.jpg
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Re: It started with Cargo door weatherstripping...

Postby MechBob » January 4th 2021, 4:39am

Ya,neet,cool,whatever.Have never replaced a sliding door weatherstrip,perhaps this is what is required? BUT,you must be a bit behind the times.Vehicle longevity went away pre 1975.Spot welds holding in backing plates were for initial build of the vehicle,not for repairs,or maintenance.We own and drive vehicles that were and are considered obsolete,after 10 years.We actually are very lucky that certain parts are now available,again! As far as the metal cracking,"did it last 10 years?"
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Re: It started with Cargo door weatherstripping...

Postby AstroWill » January 4th 2021, 7:18pm

Man that sucks, thanks for posting, definitely something to watch out for!

Probably a well abused work van at some point in time.

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Re: It started with Cargo door weatherstripping...

Postby rorgeastro [OP] » January 5th 2021, 3:52am

My van was a fleet maintained van and was in pretty good shape overall when i got it a month ago. The doors obviously saw a lot of use but now with new door roller brackets and weatherstripping operate very smoothly and with less road noise transmitted .

I've owned a lot of vehicles and regardless of age have never seen a backing plate weld fail this way before. Definitely not normal to miss 2 of 4 door spot welds..

(Recently I believe Subaru had to recall and destroy a number of cars shipped with incomplete welds for the side unibody door frame assembly. It happens from time to time and its good that modern assembly lines can audit every step in production, even if its after-the-fact.)

Here is the repair, in pictures.

1. Tools and materials needed include about 3 feet of fishing line ( weed eater) to be threaded through the top and bottom drilled out spot welds in the backing plate. (which I did last night) A nutsert tool with a suitable size of steel ( not aluminum) nutsert to match the backing plate hole diameters.

In case you don't know what a nutsert is, it is similar to a rivet in appearance and installation, but after it is installed , it has a threaded center which allows you to put in a bolt. It's much more convenient than welding in a captive nut.. I use US made nutserts as they are cadmium plated steel, very strong and they clamp the material very tightly.


20210104_plansfish4.jpg


2. Fish two, knotted at one end, fishing lines down the door shell cavity until you see them appear in the center door access cavity. Grab them and match each line from the top and bottom holes of the door shell, to the top and bottom holes of the backing plate.
20210104_goingup5.jpg


3. Slip the lines through the backing plate holes and create a knot.. leaving about 20 inches of trailing line so you can pull the line back out later...

20210104_hookedup0.jpg


4. pull the lines from the top of the door. Up it goes until the backing plate is lined up with the holes. The knots let you line up everything tight so you can temporarily thread in the 2 Torx upper door bracket bolts to keep the backing plate from falling back down the door shell.

20210104_inposition.jpg


Select a step drill if you have one and if you need to enlarge the hole size in the door shell sheet metal and backing plate to match your nutsert.
20210104_stepdrill1.jpg


Here's the nutsert installed through one backing plate hole.. I used some fluid film as corrosion protection before installation. This first nutsert is enough to secure the backing plate in place. The 2 Torx bolts you temporarily installed can now be removed. Unknot the fishing lines and pull out the lines from below.

20210104_firstnutsert0.jpg


You can reinstall the upper door bracket now with the 2 Torx bolts. I did this from inside the van with the sliding door closed.

And here's a picture of a nutsert installed on the bottom hole of the backing plate, which remains exposed even after the upper door slider bracket is bolted back in place. This is a convenient place to install a permanent bolt to secure the backing plate where the failed lower spot weld used to be.
20210104_nutsert.jpg
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Re: It started with Cargo door weatherstripping...

Postby Rod's Trucks » January 5th 2021, 6:00am

Great 'How to"write up, with excellent pictures.
I've used a similar method in other vehicles in the past, when I could use gravity to my advantage ( that seldom happens).
When gravity is not in my favor, I have used a piece if welding rod with a nut ( or a nut plate) glued on, to fish them into a frame cavity.
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Re: It started with Cargo door weatherstripping...

Postby MI_Ghost » January 5th 2021, 3:13pm

Great job saving a bad situation. That could have been enough to start the downward spiral of neglect for an otherwise good van. Clearly that door has seen plenty of hard, rough use.

The 2 missing spot welds would actually be locating pins for the bracket. The stamping would be placed on those pins followed by the bracket. The spot welder would then clamp and weld the bracket in place.

Please give the source and part number for the weatherstriping. I know my van is in need of it also.
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Re: It started with Cargo door weatherstripping...

Postby SportsBoy » January 6th 2021, 12:16am

MechBob wrote:Ya,neet,cool,whatever.

Don't get down on him Bob! This is a tricky and unique fix.

Glad you're getting your doors squared away rorgeastro :thumbup:
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Re: It started with Cargo door weatherstripping...

Postby sixsix » January 6th 2021, 3:18am

MI_Ghost wrote:Please give the source and part number for the weatherstriping. I know my van is in need of it also.

https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=141474
Try this - one of our own members worked with & got a number of seals squared away from the OEM.
I believe a few have given Thumbs Up. Augidog did some great testing - Will wrapped it up nicely.
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