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We Messed Up Our VW Jetta Smyth Ute’s Back Window

Fortunately, we caught it before it was too late to fix, but not without making a big mess.

So far, our VW Jetta Smyth Ute build has gone surprisingly well, with no major issues or problems. That changed last weekend, entirely due to human error on my part. The fact that the brains of the house (my wife) was out of town at the time may or may not have had anything to do with it.

After a successful test drive, it was time to actually attach the bodywork. I replaced the sheet metal screws with rivets all around the quarter panels and roll pan. I also trimmed a small notch in the roll pan underneath the license plate to accommodate a two-inch receiver hitch adapter. The larger receiver looks like it belongs there, and I’ve used a locking pin to hold it there permanently. Don’t worry, I have no illusions about towing race cars, horse trailers, or Space Shuttles behind the Jetta, but it will tow our small utility trailer with no problem.

Justin Hughes

Then it was time to work on the final piece of fiberglass bodywork that encloses the rear of the truncated passenger compartment. A standard pickup truck rear window, included with the kit, drops into an opening, and 3M Windo Weld holds it into place. It’s as simple as gooping up the metal flange around the perimeter of the window with a caulking gun, dropping the window into the hole in the fiberglass, and letting it dry. I found it easier to open the sliding portion of the window so I could grip the metal frame from the middle to lay it into place. Unfortunately, it was not immediately obvious to me that the latch that holds the sliding window shut was on the outside of the panel, not the inside where it belonged.

Several minutes later I realized this and let loose with a long string of “magic car fixing words.” I reached in and pulled the window out of the fiberglass surround as quickly as I could. The adhesive was tacky, but not yet dry. It was messy but I managed to remove the inside-out window before it was too late. The Windo Weld, however, got everywhere, primarily on my hands. It’s not like I stopped to put gloves on before rescuing the incorrectly installed window, despite having worn them to apply the stuff. This has to be some of the most persistent stuff I’ve ever had stuck to my skin. Nearly a week later I still look like I just walked in from performing a messy oil change. Don’t do what I did. Your skin will thank you for it.

Justin Hughes

After allowing the Windo Weld to finish drying, I grabbed the scraper and removed the rubber from both surfaces as best I could. Then, making sure I was wearing gloves and the window was right-side-out, I reinstalled it. There was no problem this time. After it dried I applied more Windo Weld to the outside of the seam, wiped it smooth with my gloved fingers, and the window and fiberglass were bonded into one piece, ready to install on the car.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go wash my hands. Again.