How to Install a New Rear Window in Your Corvair Convertible Top
All Corvair convertibles are two parts. The main top from the windshield to rear seat area and the rear window section, aka the “curtain”. While some claim that installing a new rear window section is 70% of installing a new top, this varies, depending on the condition of the top. If the top is old, yet seemingly in good condition there is a decent chance it can be done without the snowball effect. If the top obviously has holes or other issues, then, you really should just do both the top and rear window. What happens is that as the rear window is disconnected from the top rear bow, a weak vinyl top may start to rip or tear as the staples are pried out. These tears are in the top not the rear window vinyl. You might encounter tack within the frame that needs replacing, rust. The thing is, until you start removing things, one does not know. It is hard to tell the strength of the vinyl until one begins to fold and pull, that is when cracks and tears may also occur, depending on the age and condition.
The curtain is the rear window together with the fabric bonded to it. The main top is everything else. The Rear Top Bow is located just about the rear window. It is this bow that receives the top of the curtain that is attached AND the main top, which goes OVER it and stapled into cardboard like tack in the metal bow.
What seems like an easy, straight forward process can easily turn into a nightmare. Basically, to remove the rear window curtain, one needs to detach the main top at the base, inside the well area (where the top folds into). Then detach the curtain and main top at the Rear Header Bow. Replace any tack. Reinstall the new rear window by attaching it to the same Bow. Reattach the top to the same Bow. Stretch and tightly fit the top and curtain to the body inside the well area. It may cost up to $300 for a professional to do it.
Tools needed are screwdriver to remove the staples, contact cement, drill, small hammer, staple gun, 3\8 or 1\2 inch staples.
The main top straddles over the rear window section and the top’s rear quarters are on each side of the curtain. The lower edge of the curtain and the top’s quarters attach to the rear baseline in the well area.
The Base Trim Line is located in the Well area behind the rear seat. The Well Vinyl may need to be removed to see the 10+ bolts that hold this onto the car body. The Trim Line contains tack strips which allow staples to fasten the vinyl to it. These may or may not need to be replaced. Both the bottom of the rear window and the main top’s rear quarters attach to this.
Once the Base Trim Line is removed, the trim sticks or tacks in three sections, left, center and right. The rear window curtain is stapled to the CENTER only. Straddling the curtain are the main top’s quarters to the left of right sides and curved bow. Use your old window to know the location of the new bolt holes which will need to be made for the rear window fabric.
You will also need to remove the top molding all corvairs have to hide the staples that fasten the top and rear window to the Rear Top Bow. This has to be pried off and a potential tearing area. Once removed, the staples can be removed by prying, so be careful. You may have to remove the Hold Down cables attached to the side of the folding frame.
Make sure the rear window section is centered on the Top Rear Bow. Use stainless steel staples. If the rear window has a zipper, fit it exactly as the old one was. Fasten the rear window fabric to the Base trim bow working from the center to sides. Monitor it for being centered parallel to the bow. Pull down the curtain rear window and make a center staple on the trim stick, fastening the bottom is done while base trim is NOT bolted onto the car. Continue to monitor alignment as stapling is done. When complete, bolt on the Base Trim to the car, everything should be snug and tight, no stretching. There should be no wrinkles. If there are, go back and troubleshoot and remove and re-staple.
Once the rear window curtain is stapled and no wrinkles, install the main top over and stapling it to the same locations.
A pro can do this installation from 2-3 hrs, that is, installing a new rear window, assuming no problems etc. The most difficult thing is alignment and having to wrinkles when you are done caused by badly located staples or incorrect tension of the vinyl. Until it is right, one has to simply make readjustments if centered correctly. Using heat or steam helps limber vinyl.