Sealing Water Leaks Exposes Problems

Sealing Water Leaks Exposes Problems

Sealing water leaks is a crucial step

Carefully sealing water leaks is an important step in any restoration.  While I may never intentionally drive the Disgustang in the rain, I’d like to be able to wash it with water without worrying about ruining the interior.  As it stands now, though, I can’t do that.

Today I sealed the windshield and attempted to more completely seal the rear glass.  Water testing the windshield didn’t go well.  The good news is that the windshield doesn’t leak at all.  The bad news?  I have leaky body seams at the cowl…on both sides.  And I’m not talking a little leak.  I’m talking Niagara Falls.  Water testing the windshield resulted in so much of a leak that I had an inch deep standing water puddle on the driver’s side.  I had to open the floor drain hole.  Thank goodness I hadn’t installed the carpet yet!

I’m pretty sure I know why I’ve got a leak point on both sides, and I’m pretty frustrated about it. As you’ll recall, I had the car media blasted before I had it painted.  I wouldn’t hesitate to do that again, by the way, but I’d definitely want to prep and re-seal the body myself before sending it to a body shop.  The main issue is that media blasting removed most of the body seam sealer.  And frustratingly enough, Bill, who painted my car, didn’t reseal the body before he put the fenders on.

My hope for a quick solution

The usual leak point for these cars is a rusty cowl/fresh-air vent tub.  But mine is perfect.  I can dump water down the cowl vent all day long and it won’t leak.  The drains are clear, the tub itself is rust free, it’s great.  My problem is much more tricky.  The body seams on the outside of the cowl tub, under the fenders, they’re where the leaks are coming from.

My friend Mark suggested I could pull the inner fender splash guard and reach up inside the fender with the sealant.  So getting in there with a tube of body seam sealer was my my original plan.  Sadly, after pulling the wheel and fender splash guard, I realized that wasn’t going to work.

I’m gonna have to remove the fenders…

The leaky body seam is under the fender, in a complete inaccessible place, so sealing water leaks there is going to be impossible.  I’ll have to remove the fenders to properly fix this.  And I really don’t want to do that.  To pull the fenders, I have to remove the following components:

  • Front bumper
  • Front bumper guards
  • Headlight buckets
  • Fender extensions
  • Grille surround
  • Grille
  • Grill cross-brace
  • Front valance
  • Front stone guard

And I have to remove all those things without scratching or chipping the paint.  Once I’m done, I’ll have to remount the fenders and re-align them, and then put everything else back in reverse.  Just re-aligning the fenders alone will take me an entire day…because you know I won’t be happy until they are exactly how I want them.  And I basically have to get everything back in the same place since I already scratched paint off putting things in the first time.

Sealing water leaks earlier would’ve saved a lot of hassle

Had Bill double-checked and sealed everything before he put the fenders on, I wouldn’t be having this issue.  Sealing the body seams is one of the most important steps in prepping the car for paint because a leaky body can quickly lead to rust.  The time to do it is before you put the car together!  The fact that he didn’t do it then means I’ve got to do it now and risk damaging my pricey paint job.  My next question is: when should I deal with this?  Having some serious leaks changes my plan considerably.  I can’t put the carpet in, can’t put the exterior emblems on, and can’t finish the interior until I sort this out.  In the meantime, I suppose I can push forward with finishing up the engine compartment and installing everything I need to get the car running.