1979 Holden Commodore wagon windscreen leak - Our Shed

By: Glenn Torrens - Words & Photos

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holden vb commodore windscreen leak repair Gawdammit; I broke the old screen while removing it. After I finished my tasks ‘Koala’ Mark, my local mobile windscreen bloke, fitted a brand-new screen holden vb commodore windscreen leak repair

After discovering damp carpet, Glenn Torrens finds and fixes a leak in his VB Commodore wagon

Although sometimes it’s a little lonely, I’m lucky to work from home. Not driving to work means there’s no aggro peak-hour traffic to deal with and I’m not idling an hour – or more – each day in a slow-moving queue of cars like so many people must.

But not driving each day means sometimes some of my cars don’t get driven for weeks – sometimes months. Sometimes I’ll choose to drive only one of my cars for a few weeks so sometimes, my other cars will sit doing nothing. Sometimes that means my cars will suffer from ‘sometimes syndrome’ where sometimes one will present me with a shitty surprise such as a flat tyre or dead battery, or sometimes some other issue, all because most of them are only ever used sometimes!

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Finding leaks can be a laborious and frustrating process. I began by removing the guard to look for obvious rust holes. None found…

That’s how it was with my brown 1979 VB Commodore SL wagon recently. One fine sunny day, I was greeted by the musty pong of wet carpet as I opened the door after not driving it for weeks.

A quick toddler’s-parent-like feel around the cabin alerted me to the source of the smell: the carpet in the front passenger footwell was wet.

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Turns out the water source wasn’t the windscreen surround after all

I didn’t know for how long the carpet had been drowned, but with the car living outdoors it was obvious rain was leaking in.

But where?

By using a kitchen cleaner squirt bottle to diagnose, I discovered the leak to be from the lower 10cm or so of the passenger-side pillar. Checking inside the car, I could find no water dribbling over the windscreen rubber so the leak must have been under it, giving me no choice but to remove the windscreen to investigate. Despite successfully removing several windscreens DIY over the years, this one cracked as removed it. Damn!

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VG Auto Paints in Sydney used its magic colour-matching machine to concoct a vinyl paint for my car’s interior colour: One rattle-can was enough to repaint the top of my dash

With the screen out, it was with a mix of frustration and elation that I discovered that aside from one tiny hole – away from the site of the leak – there was no rust in my Commodore’s windscreen aperture.

So where was the leak? Looking closer, I found one panel join that hadn’t been welded properly when this car was built in 1979. This wagon had apparently lived most of its life in Queensland so in a dry and sunny climate, this tiny body assembly blemish probably hadn’t caused problems for any previous owners.

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While repairing under the window rubber, I decided that painting the A pillars and wiper plenum panel now would make my intended full re-paint of the car (in a year or three) far easier

With the source of the leak found, I used my MIG welder to re-zap the dodgy factory weld and fix the small rust hole before repainting the car’s plenum panel and A-pillars. Then a new windscreen was installed.

Speaking of paint; although my Commodore’s dash was in reasonably good shape with only one tiny crack, it had discoloured to a mottled burnt brown.

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A spray bottle is a handy leak-detection device: By tracing drips inside the cabin, I diagnosed the leak to be at the lower left corner of the windscreen rubber

With the windscreen out – so with easy access to the dash-top - it was a perfect opportunity to clean, mask and respray the dash-top using aerosol vinyl paint.

No more wet carpets! And the dash looks almost as good as the day it left Holden’s Dandenong factory 41 years ago.

 

From Unique Cars #449, February 2021

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